What Adults Can't Hear..Are the rumors true?

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One day, my sophomore year of high school, some of my classmates and I were exploring the idea about how adults cannot hear high frequencies like younger people can. We were in a huge debate, some believed it was true and some didn't. Then we decided to do an experiment on if our teachers could hear high pitched noises. One of my friends pulled up an app on his phone that made the high pitched sound and we started our experiment. First, we tested it on our English teacher, a middle aged man. During class, my friend turned on the app which resulted in other students wondering what that noise was, as my teacher continued on teaching. He did not hear a thing! Next, we tested it on our science teacher, who was pretty young. The teacher could start to hear something, but told us it was not very loud and distinct, while everyone could hear it perfectly. Lastly, we experimented on our health substitute, who was fairly old. It was more like a study hall, so everyone was silent. When my friend started the high pitched noise, all the other classmates sat and watched to see if our substitute would look up. She did not. Then one kid asked if she could hear anything, and she said no. From the three tests we performed that day, we came to the conclusion that it is true: As you get older, it is harder for you to hear high pitched noises. This also resulted in a discussion about how insanely high-pitched dog whistles are and how great dogs' hearing must be if humans cannot hear a sound. My friends and I still talk about that day and how we could honestly say we learned something.

My picture would not post, but here is the link: http://img.anongallery.org/img/2/6/hipster-dog-i-like-dog-whistles.jpg


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I've always wondered myself why it is that "one is less likely to hear a ringing in their ears when they're older" and I wonder if these two run along the same lines. It's pretty cool that you and your classmates actually tested different teachers to see how the sound affected them-sounds like a bunch of scientists.

Great experiment! If I were in your classes I would get so annoyed with that ringing! One of my classmates from high school did something similar, but it wasn't to test the teachers. He did it just to annoy the other classmates because he knew the teacher wouldn't hear and get him in trouble! His classmates caught on to his little game and told him to knock it off.

I've wondered this exact same thing and have always wanted to test it. I think its cool that you were able to do it. I will admit though even though I am young I am not able to hear the high pitch sounds myself;.

I've been in a class where students thought that it would be hilarious to try the high pitched sound app on a teacher. I had no idea what was going on, I was just annoyed with the people who were doing it. They were obviously well aware of the fact that adults wouldn't be able to hear the pitch. It would have been funny if it didn't happen during a test...

As for the dog whistle, I actually did my blog post on that! It is all pretty interesting. From what I read, it seemed that the high pitched sound can be really irritating to dogs, that is why their attention is drawn directly to where the source of the sound is coming from.

I've tried the exact same thing on my cousins and parents and found out that older people can't hear these high pitched sounds. I wonder if with all the loud music some college students listen to, could some college students not be able to hear these sounds as well? Will they lose their hearing way before an average person does?

It is an odd thing to wonder and the inspect--I've wondered the same thing about elderly and hearing loss and always attributed it to a degeneration with the ear tunnel, etc, which it is.

That is a great experiment, but there are still some adults out there that can here the high pitched noise. My mom, who is 52 years old can also hear the high pitched noises, but I don't think she has the best hearing because if there are multiple different background noises it is hard for her to concentrate on one thing, but she can still always here the high pitched noises....

I like how you did the experiment in school to actually test what you were talking about. People always did that when I was in high school, but we never made a real test out of it and I always kind of wondered if it was true that the older you get the fewer frequencies you can hear. I think it would be even more interesting to do it to a large group of people with ages ranging from very young to old and see how it goes from there.

I love that you guys created your own renegade experiment at school! There's a joke that the reason older couples argue so much is that the husbands cannot actually hear their wives as well because women's voices are typically higher, and therefore at a higher frequency which is where hearing loss occurs. In reading your comments, I was so surprised that more of you had similar experiences of your peers trying this in class (even during tests...how rude!)

I think that is really cool how you did an experiment at school. Also how you came up with the idea to do that. The finding are quite cool, it would be awesome if in the future if we could all talk in high pitches so during school you can still talk while the teacher is teaching without getting yelled at. Now that would be a great invention. Anyways good story!!!

I also had a discussion with my friends about the high-pitched noise. But we should have tried it like you and your friends did! It is so interesting to see the older people actually can not hear as young people do. But as we get older, we will not hear the high-pitched sounds as well. That's not fun and makes me worried about the future kids will play with high pitched sounds behind us.

I like that you tested it at school! I remember that back when I was in middle school, some annoying kid in my grade played the tone during class to bug the other students. The teacher wouldn't stop him because she couldn't hear it, so she didn't believe us when we complained. I wonder what the age cutoff is for hearing it!

Very cool! I wonder what age specifically we start to lose the ability to hear these high pitches.

I too remember that kids in my school using apps and ringtones to play the high pitched noise that teachers couldn't hear. The only problem the noise was barely noticeable, if at all, to me. I always wondered why this was the case because I am by no means elderly. Maybe I'm the exception or maybe I have a bunch of junk in my ears, but it would be curious to find out why my hearing of these frequencies is not as good as my peers. It also, is a little scary to think I may lose all my hearing earlier than when most people lose significant hearing.

Wow! That sounds like such a fun experiment! I know exactly what you're talking about because sometimes a person in the room's phone will go off and my teacher never hears it! It's crazy how they can miss it.

This is an interesting post. I think many would agree that as people age their senses become less acute. However, many people seem to retain their senses quite well. I know my grandma has excellent hearing and vision even for someone who is not 82 years old. My father (who is 52) still has really good hearing but it seems that he is more selective in his hearing and vision. Some sounds he can hear quite well whereas other things he doesn’t notice. It seems to be a little bit due to the luck of the draw in how our senses decline as we age.

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This page contains a single entry by hans4320 published on February 18, 2012 1:28 AM.

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