Ear, ear: 7-year-olds hear 70% from right versus only 55% of speech to left

Jo Craven McGinty, the Wall Street Journal “Numbers” columnist, provided in the February 3rd issue the surprising ‘heads-up’ that children understand much less of when spoken to from the left than from the right.  The difference in comprehension stems from a discrepancy in lengths to which speech must travel through the brain.  This had been thought to become moot as nerves develop—the “right-ear-advantage” (REA) becoming clinically insignificant by adulthood.  However, as reported by WSJ, new findings presented by Auburn University researchers in December to the Acoustical Society of America, indicate that even at ages 19 to 28, a challenging communication may be understood at a rate of 40% more when delivered to the right ear.

The Remarkable History of Right-Ear Advantage published in the January 2018 Hearing Review reveals that REA returns with a vengeance at age 60 and beyond.  Perhaps a podcast will be produced to speak on this phenomenon.  If so, I plan to put the sound bud into my right ear.

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