Temporary blindness boosts hearing
Suppressing the ability to see may help enhance hearing by altering certain functions in the brain, according to new animal research.
Scientists from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland studied two groups of mice—one was kept in complete darkness, while the other was exposed to natural light. The study lasted for one week, after which researchers examined the mice’s hearing. They found that the mice that were kept in the dark were better able to hear softer sounds than were the mice in the control group. This effect lasted for several weeks following the experiment.
The findings, published in the journal Neuron, showed that the mice’s enhanced hearing stemmed from temporary changes in the structure of the hearing-related sections of the brain, which were essentially “beefed up.” Researchers said that further understanding of the mechanisms involved in hearing could have implications for deaf people. They also acknowledged that more research is needed to determine if similar brain changes occur in humans.