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Henry McKenna 804

The Effect of Age on Hearing

Henry McKenna

on 8 March 2015

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Transcript of Henry McKenna 804

The Effect of Age on Hearing
By: Henry McKenna

Research Question
How Does Age Effect Hearing???
Background Information
In order to understand hearing loss, it is essential to learn how we hear in the first place.
First of all, sound waves enter the outer ear, and travel to the eardrum through the ear canal. The eardrum vibrates because of the incoming waves, and these vibrations are sent to the malleus, stapes, and incus.
These three bones then turn the sound vibrations into fluid vibrations once they enter the cochlea (a snail-shaped object filled with fluid.) Once the fluid inside the cochlea ripples, then a traveling wave forms, carrying hair cells (cilia).
Microscopic projections on top of the cilia (stereocilia) touch the ‘ceiling” of the structure and bend, opening channels where chemicals gush in, causing an electrical signal. The auditory nerve then brings this signal to the brain, letting us perceive a sound.
One type of age-related hearing loss is noise-induced. 12-15% of schoolchildren suffer from permanent hearing damage induced by everyday cacophony. This type of hearing loss happens if you have been exposed to long-lasting sounds or sounds with abnormally high volume. These noises destroy sensory hair cells that cannot grow back.
Living in the age of iPods, iPhones and other hand-held music devices has sparked even more issues. In 2006, 59% of teenagers and 35% of adults said that they “listened [to music] at loud volumes.” If you are a music lover, purchase over-the-ear headphones. They deliver lower noise levels than earbuds (Brody 4).
Most types of age-related hearing loss are sensorineural. This typically means that old age causes the wear and tear of the sensory hair cells. However, an abnormal amount of noise exposure could also be the culprit.

Hypothesis and Variables
If the participant is of an older age, then they will have more trouble hearing, because their ears have suffered from more wear. Age related hearing loss can be caused by damage to the outer, middle, or inner ear.

Materials and Procedure

iPhone (Hearing Test: HurryForward Ltd.)
Headphones (Plattan Model: Pumpkin Color from URBANEARS)
Hearing Test Handout
2nd Pair of Headphones (so the Experimenter may take the Experiment alongside the Participant-acting as a Control)
Pencil/Pen (for writing)


Gather Materials.
Participant fills out TOP of Handout.
Attach 2nd Pair of Headphones to Main Ones.
Participant puts on Headphones, and turns around so they will not see the Experiment being conducted.
Say “Raise your Hand when you hear a Tone.”
Play 8000 Hz.
Record their answer.
Repeat steps 7-8 with 10000, 12000, 14000, 15000, 16000, 18000, and 20000 Hz.
Repeat all steps with all other Participant for a total of 30 times (10 Participants per Level).

Data & Results
The older the person, the less frequencies they will hear, because Hearing Perception decreases with Age. Over the years, Noise wears away at Cilia in the ears that detect sound, therefore losing the ability to hear. Between the ages of 10-29 and 50-65, you lose the ability to hear a total of 6800 different Hertz. My hypothesis was fully supported-Age has an incredibly negative effect on Hearing.
Overall, this Experiment seems to be a total success! However, there were some extraneous variables. First of all, a few of the Hearing Tests were conducted inside a busy hallway or a populated classroom. The Plattan Model Headphones were chosen because they block out as much sound as possible, but some excess noise could have leaked in. Next, before each tone, a click was sounded. Some participants may have been confused and thought they had heard a tone, when in truth, they had only heard the click (the click was there to ensure that participants would know that a tone was being played. This was explained to each participant before the test was conducted). Extraneous variables may have swayed some results.
If I were to conduct this experiment a second time, I would ensure that each Participant would take the test in as quiet an area as is possible. Also, I would use a slightly different test, where there was no click. Therefore, the Participant would only hear what the Instructor would like them to hear.
For Future Investigations, I would like to find out if Gender plays a role in the Amount of Frequencies heard by the Participant. In this Experiment, there was a pretty equal Male to Female ratio, so this particular Experiment was not swayed.
All in all, it is more than clear to see that Age has an incredibly negative effect on Hearing Perception. However, if you are very attentive to what you hear on a Daily Basis, it is possible to slow down some effects.
Artifacts Cont'd
Based on the Bar Graph and Data Table it is more than clear that age has an incredibly negative effect on Hearing Perception. The average amount of Hertz most people can hear decreases by 6800 Hz from the ages of 10-29 to 50-65.
Levels of the IV!!!
Hello, Participant!
Independent Variable:
Age of Participant
Dependent Variable:
Number of Hertz (Hz) Heard
Frequencies Chosen
Participants Per Age Group
Levels of the IV:
Age Groups of 10-29, 30-49, and 50-65
Each Level was tested 10 times
The Older the Participant in the Experiment, the less Frequencies they will be able to Hear.
The Five Senses have always interested me-particularly Hearing. I wanted to know why I could hear some sounds that my parents couldn't.
"Age-Related Hearing Loss." Age-Related Hearing Loss. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.

"Aging & Health A to Z." Causes & Symptoms Hearing Loss Aging & Health A To Z Health in Aging. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Feb. 2015.

Brody, Jane E. "What Causes Hearing Loss." New York Times. N.p., 25 Mar. 2013. Web. 7 Mar. 2015.
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