Sound and Taste: Where Is the Connection?
Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which two or more senses interact; stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway. One of the most common forms of synesthesia is grapheme-color synesthesia, in which people perceive individual letters of the alphabet and numbers to be “shaded” with a color. Other forms of synesthesia include correlating sounds with scents, sounds with shapes, or sounds with taste. This brings us back to: sound and taste, where is the connection?
Sound and Taste
Although not directly described as synesthesia, Charles Spence, an experimental psychologist at the University of Oxford has devoted much of his career specializing in research about the integration of information across the different senses. His work helps to explain why food can be more or less enjoyable depending on environmental features/atmosphere, colors, or in this case, sounds. Some of his most noteworthy work relates to how our perception of taste is effected by other sensory modalities, say sound, for example. As Spence writes, “Many of the food properties that we all find highly desirable – think crispy, crackly, crunchy, carbonated, creamy, and of course, squeaky (like halloumi cheese) – depend, at least in part, on what we hear”. Perhaps his most notable experiment in the field of cross-modal research was “The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips,” published in the Journal of Sensory Studies in 2004. From this research, Spence concluded that food can taste different depending on changes in sound. In general, higher pitched crisps with more crunch were reported to be more fresh and more desirable in taste. More recently, he found that higher-pitched music enhances sweetness. The evidence shows that when people are asked to match tastes with a specific pitch or musical instrument, the majority of people will match sweet-tasting foods with sounds having a higher pitch and the sound of the piano while matching bitter-tasting foods with lower pitched sounds and the sound of a brass instrument. Another thought: Ever think about why tomato juice or a Bloody Mary is more appealing on an airplane? Spence explains that the 5th flavor of taste, umami—a meaty, protein-like flavor described by the Japanese is actually enhanced in flight. According to research done by Spence, the loud engine noise of the plane at upwards of 85 decibels can influence how you taste food and beverage. It tends to suppress sweet and salty whilst enhancing umami, thus, you choose to drink tomato juice. Many drink options on planes tend to be sweet, hence juice and soda. Tomato juice is one of the only savory options. In fact, the German airline Lufthansa estimates people consume about as much tomato juice as beer aboard its flights! Spence’s suggestion to make more things taste appealing in air is to simply use noise-cancelling headphones. There is also work being done looking at different music people listen to on flights and how that can possibly contribute to how things taste. More work is being done in this area related to how restaurants can use sound to enhance the dining experience and food and beverage companies can utilize sound to better market their products.
Charles Spence recently published a book called Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating. It is about the quirks of human perception and how they play out at mealtimes. https://www.amazon.com/Gastrophysics-Science-Eating-Charles-Spence/dp/0735223467
Also, click these links to view some interesting videos about the topics discussed above:
The Hearing Center at Jacksonville Hearing & Balance Join Kilwins Ice Cream Run (5K and One Mile)
The Hearing Center at Jacksonville Hearing & Balance Institute is proud to join Kilwins to be a sponsor of this year’s Kilwins Ice Cream Run (5K and One Mile) to benefit Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech in Jacksonville. The Clarke mission is to provide children who are deaf or hard of hearing with the listening, learning and spoken language skills they need to succeed. Clarke impacts the lives of children and adults through education and early childhood programs, hearing services, mainstream services, research, curriculum development, and the teachers and professionals trained by Clarke who take their special skills to all parts of the world. They teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing how to listen and talk using the latest technology – all so each person who receives the caring and compassionate services delivered by Clarke is able to reach his or her full potential. The Hearing Center’s audiologists, along with Douglas A. Green Jr., MD and the staff at Jacksonville Hearing & Balance Institute, know Clarke is more than a school, it is a place that allows new horizons for those they serve. Register now and come along with us – run and walk to help this extraordinary organization! Sign up today – and bring your friends: //www.clarkeschools.org/icecreamrun
An event to Benefit
Clarke Schools for Hearing and Speech
Saturday, March 3, 2018
St. Johns Town Center, Jacksonville, FL
Learning About Cochlear Implants
If you or a loved one has a severe hearing loss and have tried hearing aids without success you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is an implantable device that works together with an externally worn processor to bypass the damaged portion of the inner ear to deliver sound to the brain. Due to damage to the organ of hearing, many people find that hearing aids simply amplify sound and do not provide clarity or understanding.
To learn more about cochlear implants and other implantable devices please join Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute as we partner with Cochlear Americas to host an Open House event on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018. Representatives from Cochlear Americas will be available from 8am-3pm to answer questions, discuss candidacy and show models of cochlear implants and other implantable devices. A cochlear implant audiologist from Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute will be available from 10-12pm and from 1-3pm to discuss the evaluation and follow up process.
Mark your calendars for this wonderful and informational event. Feel free to drop by at your convenience any time between 8am and 3pm.
Wednesday March, 7th 2018
Sheraton Jacksonville Hotel
10605 Deerwood Park Blvd
Jacksonville, Florida 32256
To register, or for more information, contact Ralyn Jelus at email@example.com or by telephone/text at (404)695-8612. We hope to see you there!
Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Tinnitus
Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute will be hosting an informational seminar about the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of tinnitus. Dr. J. Douglas Green and Janelle Kelley Au.D., CCC-A will be speaking. You will also get the chance to hear from individuals who live with tinnitus on a daily basis and the steps they have taken to manage their tinnitus.
Where: Southeast Regional Library, 10599 Deerwood Park Blvd, Room A
When: Saturday, February 3, 2018
Time: 10:30am – 12:30pm
Seating is limited! Please RSVP by contacting Judy Martin by telephone at (904) 778-2265 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to meeting all those in attendance.
How Long Do Hearing Aids Last?
One of the most common questions we hear during a hearing aid consultation is “how long will these devices last?” It’s a smart question to ask given the investment that is required for a new pair of hearing aids. Many long-term hearing aid users will also start to worry that their devices will fail suddenly, leaving them without sound.
The average hearing aid user will upgrade their technology after 5 to 6 years. Some people will continue to use a hearing aid for 8-10 years, while others will choose to buy new technology after just two years. Let’s take a look at what might affect how long someone uses a hearing aid:
- Repairs: Like all electronics, hearing aids are more prone to requiring repairs the older they are. After the initial manufacturer’s warranty expires on the hearing aid (typically at 2 to 3 years), all repairs are out-of-pocket costs. Depending on what has gone wrong, repairs can range from $50 to $300+. In most cases, frequent repairs also mean time spent without the hearing aid, which can be very difficult for people who have grown dependent on their amplification. If repairs become too frequent, a person may opt to put their money towards updated technology. Also keep in mind that eventually, a manufacturer will run out of replacement parts for older models of hearing aids, so it become more difficult to get an 8-10 year old hearing aid repaired.
- Updates to technology: Hearing aid technology turns over very quickly. Most manufacturer’s release at least one new product every year, if not more often. It usually takes about five years for someone to notice a significant increase in sound quality and functionality of the hearing aid in order to justify upgrading technology.
- Loss/Damage: New hearing aids usually have a loss and damage warranty for 1-3 years. During that time, if you lose a device, the manufacturer will replace it with a new one for a small fee. Outside of the warranty, if you lose the hearing aid, you have to purchase a new one to replace it.
- Hearing changes: Most hearing aids can be reprogrammed to fit a large range of hearing levels. In rare instances of severe and sudden hearing deterioration, it is possible that someone would need to purchase a power device, which would be a new hearing aid designed to fit worsening hearing.
If you are wondering if newer hearing aids are appropriate for you, or you are noticing increased difficulties hearing, it’s a good idea to visit your audiologist. He or she can make recommendations for improving your current devices or moving forward with purchasing new technology. Remember that this is your journey, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and state your preferences. We look forward to helping you along the way.
WJCT Speaker Series
Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute (JHBI) is excited to partner with WJCT to host a speaker series this Friday, November 3rd, on hearing loss, cognition, and navigating the complicated world of hearing aids.
The event starts at 10:30am with an hour of free hearing screenings provided by two members of JHBI’s audiology staff. Hearing screenings are provided on a first come, first served basis so arrive early if you’re interested! Registration is open from 11:30am-12:00pm. The main speaking event, including a presentation and a question and answer session, will run from noon until 1:00pm. Complimentary lunch is provided.
Dr. Douglas Green Jr., the founder of JHBI and the practice’s neurotologist, will be speaking on the connection between hearing loss and cognitive decline. Dr. Kristen Edenfield, a clinical audiologist that has been with JHBI for over three years, will be discussing hearing aids as a treatment for hearing loss and how to navigate the world of amplification.
If you are interested in attending, please RSVP by November 1st at 5pm by calling 904-358-6322 or visiting wjct.org/jhbi.
This October is National Protect Your Hearing Month!
Over 12 million Americans have hearing loss as a result of exposure to noise, or noise-induced hearing loss. The audiologists here at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute as well as audiologists across the country are encouraging individuals to protect their hearing by:
- Wearing hearing protection when around sounds louder than 85dB for 30 minutes or more.
- Turning down the volume when listening to the radio, the TV, MP3 player, or anything through ear buds and headphones.
- Walking away from loud noise.
How Does NIHL Occur?
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by damage to the microscopic hair cells which are found in the inner ear. They are small sensory cells that convert the sounds we hear into electrical signals that travel to the brain. Once damaged, our hair cells cannot be repaired or grow back, causing permanent hearing loss.
How Loud is Too Loud?
The loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by prolonged exposure to any loud noise over 85 dB, such as concerts, sporting events, lawnmowers, fireworks, MP3 players at full volume, and more. A brief exposure to a very intense sound, such as a gun shot near the ear, can also damage your hearing.
An environment is too loud and considered dangerous if you:
- Have to shout over background noise to be heard.
- It is painful to your ears.
- It makes your ears ring during and after exposure.
If you have decreased or “muffled” hearing for several hours after exposure, that is a sign of a temporary change in hearing, which can possibly lead to permanent hearing damage.
What Kind of Hearing Protection Does JHBI Offer?
To prevent noise induced hearing loss, the Hearing Center at Jacksonville Hearing and Balance offers a wide range of hearing protection devices that are custom-made to fit the unique curvature of an individual’s ear. These devices attenuate loud sounds and can be used in any environment that can potentially damage hearing sensitivity; from concerts, to sporting events, and even to the firing range.
If you are interested in meeting with an audiologist to discuss custom hearting protection options to fit your lifestyle, contact the Hearing Center at 904-399-0350 to make an appointment.
A Brief History
The introduction of the jet engine aircraft in the late 1940s and early 1950s raised concerns about hazardous noise and was one of the most important occurrences to the subsequent development of hearing conservation programs (Nixon, 1998). No sound of the jet engine’s magnitude had ever been routinely experienced in the military or by civilians. In 1952, the Navy conducted a study to evaluate the effects of the jet engine noise on personnel aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea. The study verified the seriousness of the high-intensity noise problem. In response to the problem, the NAS-NRC Armed Services Committee on Hearing and Bioacoustics (CHABA) was established in 1952 (Nixon, 1998). It was their job to examine the areas of (a) effects and control of noise, (b) auditory discrimination, (c) speech communications, (d) fundamental mechanisms of hearing, and (e) auditory standards. CHABA members were at the forefront of hearing conservation program (HCP) development. They began sponsoring and publishing reports related to noise in the military. They went on to publish a Memorandum No. 2 on “Hearing Conservation Data and Procedures” in 1956. The Memorandum described components of a hearing conservation program and provided recommendations for their implementation.
In 1956, the Air Force was the first to establish a comprehensive hearing conservation program. The Regulation was revised in 1973. Both were model programs after which many organizations within and outside the government were created (Nixon, 1998). In 1978, the Department of Defense Instruction (DODI) 6055.3 was published and contained requirements that attempted to make all hearing conservation programs uniform across services. By 1980, the three branches (Air Force, Army, and Navy) had established hearing conservation programs in compliance with DODI (Nixon, 1998). In 1987, the DODI was revised. The most current DODI is 6055.12, and ensures that all services have a hearing conservation program implemented and these programs should include: a) sound measurements, b) engineering control measures, 3) noise labels in hazardous areas/on equipment, d) issuance of hearing protective devices, e) appropriate education to all personnel working around hazardous noises, f) routine audiometric testing which is to be stored in the Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System (DOEHRS), g) access to materials, h) record keeping through DOEHRS, and i) program performance evaluations (DOD, 2010).
NIHL in the Military
Northeast Florida is home to many military installations, including Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport, Kings Bay Naval Base, Camp Blanding Joint Training Center, Naval Aviation Depot Jacksonville, and Marine Corps Blount Island Command, which together provide employment to more than 50,000 active duty, reserve, and civilian men and women. As of 2011, there were 2,226,883 military members in the United States serving (including active duty, National Guard, Air National Guard, and reserves). Within the military population, an estimated 60% of veterans returning home from war have a hearing loss (CDC, 2013). Disabilities of the auditory system, including hearing loss and tinnitus, are the third most common injury experienced by veterans (Helfer, Canham-Chervak, Canada, & Mitchener, 2010). As far back as World War II, handguns, rifles, artillery rockets, ships, aircraft carriers, vehicles, communications devices, and many more, have been sources of potentially damaging noise levels (Humes et al., 2006, p. 201). Hearing is critical to the performance of military personnel, and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a severe impairment that can potentially reduce military effectiveness.
Several studies have been conducted to document reports of military hearing loss and tinnitus and effects due to noise. Results from a study conducted in 2010 using data between 2003-2005, found that a total number of 88,285 hearing impairment and noise-induced hearing related injuries (NIHI) were documented—unspecified hearing loss, tinnitus, perforations of tympanic membrane, acoustic trauma, impairment of auditory discrimination, etc. (Helfer et al., 2010). Overall, NIHI visits were reported for 9.6 per 1000 personnel.
How Does NIHL Occur? How Can It Be Prevented?
Loud noises destroy the ear’s special cells, called “hair cells.” They lie within the sensory organ of the ear, called “the cochlea”. The cochlea cannot regrow new hair cells. Once they have become permanently damaged, they are no longer a useful part of the cochlea. Hair cells are important because they help translate sound into a signal the brain interprets, or “hears.” The hair cells can be damaged significantly by a single impulse sound — gunfire, for example, or by prolonged noise exposure at levels that are harmful to healthy hair cells (greater than 85 dB).
Prevention is key in helping to reduce the number of military members and veterans with NIHL. Hearing conservation programs are a step in the right direction. Hearing protection devices, such as passive and active earplugs and earmuffs will also aid in prevention when used properly. Engineering controls to help reduce excessive noise levels should also be implemented. Most importantly, education about the dangers of hazardous noise levels is paramount to further reducing the incidence of NIHL in military members and veterans. Over the past several years, all branches of the military have been making strides towards better education about hearing loss and taking steps towards providing the best hearing protection for soldiers.
For the general population, three strategies you can use for prevention are: 1) walk away- at further distances, dangerous noise levels are not as harmful to your ears, 2) turn it down- if you have the ability, make sure you are listening to things at safe levels, reference the dB level above, and 3) protect your ears- always have a pair of earplugs or muffs on hand when you go to concerts, loud sporting events, hit the shooting range, etc. And just remember, currently, there is no cure for hearing loss, so try to protect the healthy hair cells you have!
DoD. 2010. Department of Defense Instruction 6055.12: DoD Hearing Conservation Program. Washington, DC: Department of Defense
Helfer, T. M., Canham-Chervak, M., Canada, S., & Mitchener, T. A. (2010). Epidemiology of hearing impairment and noise-induced hearing injury among U.S. military personnel, 2003-2005. American Journal of Preventative Medicines, 38(1S), S71-S77. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2009.10.025
Humes, L. E., Joellenbeck, L. M., & Durch, J. S. (2006) Noise and military service: Implications for hearing loss and tinnitus. Washington, DC: National Academies Press
Nixon, C.W. (1998). A glimpse of history: The origin of hearing conservation was in the military? Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH: U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory
Advancements in Cochlear Implant Technology
In recent years, technology has become available that has allowed hearing aid users to connect their hearing devices directly to their Apple IPhone. This technology has allowed users to stream phone calls, stream media, and use their phone as a remote control without the need for an extra piece of equipment (neck worn device, etc.). Unfortunately, this option has not been available for cochlear implant users. However, with the release of Cochlear Americas’ Nucleus 7 sound processor, this is now a great option for IPhone and Cochlear Americas implant users.
But what about users without iPhones?!
Not to worry, there are still those “in-between” devices that will allow users to connect to their cell phones with Bluetooth. These types of devices are available to users of all three of the cochlear implant companies with which we work (Advanced Bionics, Cochlear Americas, and MED-EL).
If you or a loved one are a cochlear implant user looking to upgrade technology or if you are someone suffering from hearing loss and believe the cochlear implant may be the best solution for your hearing needs, contact our clinic at 904-399-0350.
The Phonak Belong Platform: An Overview
Last week Phonak launched their ‘Made for All’ direct connect hearing aid, the Audeo B-Direct. Using a new proprietary 2.4 GHz radio chip these devices allow users to stream phone calls directly to any cell phone with Bluetooth without an intermediary device. Current technology from other hearing aid manufacturers allows only users of an Apple phone the ability to stream phone calls. The Made for All technology will allow Android, iOS or other Bluetooth cell phone users access to hands-free phone use. By utilizing built-in microphones as a voice pick-up feature, the Audeo B-Direct is able to function like a wireless Bluetooth headset. Once a phone call is received by the user, they are able to answer calls with a push of a button on the hearing aid. At this time, streaming of the phone call is only heard on the user’s preferred side, not to both devices. Patients will also have the ability to balance environment noise when background noise is present by either using the volume control on their phone or directly on their hearing aids. Using a streaming protocol called AirstreamTM Technology, the new TV Connecter from Phonak offers a “plug and play” solution that turns Audeo B-Direct hearing aids into wireless TV headphones. This device allows users to stream content from their TV without having to wear a body-worn streamer and is capable of streaming to multiple hearing aid wearers at the same time.
Virto B Biometric Calibration:
Another recent launch from Phonak is the use of Biometric Calibration in Virto B custom hearing aids. Using 3-D modeling software 1,600 biometric data points are identified from an earmold impression and are used to calculate calibration settings that are unique to each user. This technology allows individual ear anatomy and its effects on the acoustics of the incoming sound to be accounted for which provides a 2dB improvement in directionality. Another available option is the Virto B- Titanium invisible in the ear (IIC) option, which is made from medical grade titanium. Titanium is stronger and thinner than acrylic, allowing for significantly reduced device size.
Audeo B-R and Bolero-PR Rechargeable Options:
Phonak continues to offer a built-in rechargeable device option (Audeo B-R and Bolero B-PR). With a single charge, the device is powered for up to 24 hours. Smart charging options are also available, which allow on the go users to charge from anywhere, without having to worry about running out of power.
If you or someone you love is noticing hearing difficulties and would like to discuss hearing aid options, contact The Hearing Center at JHBI at (904) 399-0350 ext 246 to schedule an appointment to speak with an Audiologist about your options!