A Pas de Deux of Hearing: The Eyes and the Eardrums When the eyes move, so do the eardrums, according to a study from Duke University. Researchers found that the movement of the eardrum following eye movement occurred even in the absence of externally delivered sounds. In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers replicated ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   April 01, 2018
A Pas de Deux of Hearing: The Eyes and the Eardrums
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Hearing & Speech Perception / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   April 01, 2018
A Pas de Deux of Hearing: The Eyes and the Eardrums
The ASHA Leader, April 2018, Vol. 23, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.23042018.16
The ASHA Leader, April 2018, Vol. 23, 16. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.23042018.16
When the eyes move, so do the eardrums, according to a study from Duke University. Researchers found that the movement of the eardrum following eye movement occurred even in the absence of externally delivered sounds.
In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers replicated the findings in both humans and rhesus monkeys.
In the human phase of the study, 16 participants (ages 18–45) sat in a dark, sound-attenuated room. Researchers controlled for head movement by having participants use a chin rest, and an infrared camera tracked eye movement. Participants’ eyes followed shifting LED lights, and small microphones in the ear canal picked up any vibrations caused by eardrum movement.

The greater the eye movement, the greater the vibration in the eardrum.

Researchers noted that both eardrums moved in sync when the eyes moved, and the greater the eye movement, the greater the vibration in the eardrum. According to the authors, their study suggests that a vision-related process modulates the first stage of hearing.
“The fact that these eardrum movements are encoding spatial information about eye movements means that they may be useful for helping our brains merge visual and auditory space,” says David Murphy, a doctoral student at Duke University and co-first author of the paper.
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April 2018
Volume 23, Issue 4