Hearing, Sound, and Health
This week's collection of research highlights showcases two studies that delve into an under-discussed input for health: sound.
From investigating the potential benefits of hearing interventions in mitigating cognitive decline to exploring the intriguing link between nocturnal traffic noise exposure and obesity markers, these studies offer fresh shed some light on the fact that, indeed, sound is another important input for health.
Plus, I recommend a book I recently finished that discusses the unique ways different animals perceive the world (their Umwelten - the world as it is experienced by a particular organism).
This Week’s Research Highlights
A significant trial published in The Lancet involving nearly 1,000 older adults suggests that treating hearing loss could be crucial for preventing dementia. While standard hearing aids didn't affect cognitive decline in the general older population, they protected against decline in those at greater dementia risk. Age-related hearing loss contributes to 8% of global dementia cases. The ACHIEVE trial enrolled 977 adults with untreated hearing loss and found that while overall cognitive decline wasn't reduced, those at higher risk of decline experienced 48% less decline with the hearing intervention.
This study aimed to investigate the potential link between nighttime traffic noise exposure and markers of obesity, while also exploring the role of sleep disturbance as a mediator. The study revealed that among women, high traffic noise levels in the bedroom were associated with a possible increase in BMI and waist circumference. This is not the first time this connection has been identified. These women also had higher odds of being overweight and having abdominal obesity. Interestingly, men showed more mixed results, with noise exposure sometimes being associated with lower abdominal obesity risk. Notably, sleep disturbance appeared to mediate the connection between bedroom noise and obesity markers for women.
Random Trivia & Weird News
Did you know that honey can last for centuries without spoiling? Archaeologists have discovered pots of honey in ancient Egyptian tombs that are over 3,000 years old and still perfectly edible. This remarkable preservation is due to honey's unique chemical makeup. Honey is a supersaturated solution of sugars, and its acidity and low moisture content make it an inhospitable environment for bacteria and other microorganisms that cause food to spoil. In fact, honey is one of the few foods that can last indefinitely if stored properly.
Podcasts We Loved This Week
- Josh Turknett & Tommy Wood: Are hearing aids a good idea? By Better Brain Fitness
- Greg Potter: Chrononutrition, Chronoexercise, Chronopharmacology, and Circadian Disruption in Society - Reason & Wellbeing Podcast
The humanOS Bookshelf
Science journalist Ed Yong presents an eye-opening exploration of animal perception in his captivating bestseller, An Immense World. Delve into the distinct sensory perspectives of various creatures, from beetles drawn to fire to turtles attuned to Earth's magnetic fields. Yong comments that a lack of appreciation for the different ways animals perceive the world limits out ability to understand them more deeply. We might not be even be asking the right types of questions when scientists look to study them. Even our descriptions of things like sound are high anthropomorphic. For instance, infrasound is sound below 20 hertz. We have named this wave of sound such because humans can’t hear it, but other animals, like fin whales and elephants can! The book is fascinating from beginning to end, with a good dose of humor mixed it. For instance, Yong refers to his dog “Typo” often in the book, which I find to be a perfect pet name for a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer.