Otofonix HearResponsibly Yours - Under The Audiogram Cover

2. Under the Audiogram

Under The Audiogram
HearResponsibly Yours, Musings from a Seasoned Hearing Scientist

The chart of barely audible tones is the familiar audiogram. By unnaturally separating the Right ear from the Left (Nature has them crucially combined in the auditory portions of the brain to provide vital information on the source of sounds in space), an audiogram is generated to plot the softest sounds for 5 or more tones.  Usually, red circles represent the Right ear and blue X’s for the Left.

But Nature never separates our ears, the clinical value of audiometry is for determining if an important disease may be present, or noise or medication is causing damage.  For normal hearing purposes we need ‘Balanced,’ 2-sided sound sensors (ears) and we rarely listen to sounds at very soft ‘threshold’ levels. The audiogram chart is useful, but only provides a superficial picture of an individual’s hearing needs and communication stresses at ‘supra-threshold’ levels (more about that in a future post).  

But here’s something else – audiometric equipment is calibrated in acoustic pressure levels called dB PA.  The softest sound a healthy person can detect in air is 20 micro Pa, a very tiny amount of moving pressure & the range to our perception of ‘very loud’ is so enormous it gets compressed into 110 dB (by the math trick of logarithms) in order to put it on to a usable graph (the audiogram).  

Ah, but here’s the really cool thing  down deep – the Pa reference is to the French scientist, Blaise Pascal who lived in the 1600’s. A brilliant mathematician and scientist, his name underlies every audiogram using a calibrated audiometer. Pascal’s philosophical and religious musings were wide-ranging and often very ‘heart intensive’ (see #1 of these musings). 

To a friend he once said:

I bring you the gift of these four words: ‘I Believe in You!’

Isn’t that a perfect expression of truly hearing and listening to another person… with heart?!  How can we honor someone with such belief if we haven’t first truly heard them? That’s one of the many mysteries… found way down under the audiogram.

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