Ability to Listen to Two Things at Once Is Largely Inherited, Says Twin Study
The ability to hear, and actually comprehend, two distinct conversations simultaneously, such as a phone conversation in one ear and a friend talking in the other, isn't just a reflection of your dedicated friendship
Waddell: The ability to hear, and actually comprehend, two distinct conversations simultaneously, such as a phone conversation in one ear and a friend talking in the other, isn't just a reflection of your dedicated friendship. It is also largely a result of your genes, according to a new study by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health. The study, which took place at a twins convention in Twinsburg, Ohio, was led by NIDCD scientist Dr. Robert Morell, and shows a genetic link to auditory processes.
Morell: Our novel finding is that because we gave these tests to sets of twins, we were able to demonstrate that that variability is actually due to shared genes, so it's largely a heritable trait.
Waddell: Dr. Morell worked alongside Dr. Carmen Brewer, who is Chief of the Audiology Otolaryngology Branch at the NIDCD. Both Dr. Morell and Dr. Brewer brought up the high heritability of dichotic listening, which is the ability to listen to two things at once, and at about 75 percent is comparable to the heritability of diabetes or height. Dr. Brewer explains the significance of understanding the causes of poor dichotic listening.
Brewer: It helps us to understand the potential causes of poor dichotic listening performance that don't seem to be related to an insult or an injury and when a person has poor performance, you want to know what's causing it. So this leads us to have an understanding of a potential ideologic diagnosis or a potential underlying cause, that this child is doing poorly not because they have necessarily a disease, or they've had an injury to their auditory system, but because this is a trait that they've inherited.
Morell: Researchers believe this information will benefit both older people who struggle with hearing loss and loss of comprehension, as well as children who experience auditory processing disorders. For more information about NIDCD research and programs, see the web site at www.nidcd.nih.gov. From the National Institutes of Health, I'm Lauren Waddell in Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Lauren Waddell
Sound Bite: Dr. Robert Morell, Dr. Carmen Brewer