Bone conduction is a term that you don’t normally hear everyday. But if you’re musically inclined, you may have encountered this term after learning that it’s how Beethoven managed to still ‘hear’ notes using his mouth, or how it’s touted as an enhanced sound feature in some headphones.
Either way, it shows that bone conduction is one of our body’s hidden gems when it comes to our ability to pick up sound! Research into it has led to a remarkable number of fun facts about how the human body uses it.
Here are just three fascinating examples:
Fun Fact #1: It helps us understand the power of echolocation.
Echolocation is a word you may have heard to describe the way blind animals (and even people) can still ‘see’ by using sounds instead of their eyes. It has been portrayed as a superpower in many works of science fiction. But when you understand how bone conduction works, it makes even more sense!
In fact, today’s tech companies are seeing bone conduction’s potential for audio-cues to help the visually impared (as demonstrated by Microsoft’s experimental bone-conduction headset). People who can’t see are more dependent on what sounds their brain picks up and interprets, making their ability to use bone conduction a vital asset.
Fun Fact #2: It’s why our recorded voices sound different.
It is commonly believed that a lot of us don’t like hearing our own voices. One good explanation for this is the fact that when we speak, the sounds our brains are actually receiving are of a more intense quality because of bone conduction.
Simply put, your bones conduct more of the sound produced by your vocal chords and allow you to perceive more from your own voice compared to people hearing it just from the sound entering their ears!
This phenomenon has been a subject of much study for those working with singers and how it has led to a fascinating, new perspective on the way people understand their own speech.
Fun Fact #3: It can help train our brains to better process sound.
There are a number of brain training programs that use sound (including our own Tomatis® Method). A lot of these programs also happen to incorporate bone conduction equipment in one form or another.
If you still don’t understand why this is, it is because bone conduction is simply a very different experience from just hearing purely through your ears. At first, it may seem strange to start picking up this difference. You’ll notice it, but it will feel subtle and seemingly unimportant. On the other hand, those who work in areas that require better understanding of sound will acknowledge just how crucial this really is!
It pertains to auditory processing, a function of our brain that is also tied to other significant areas like our motor skills and even problem solving abilities. Furthermore, bone conduction plays a crucial part of our development in the womb, as it served as our instrument to perceiving sounds even while our ears were still forming.
All in all, bone conduction is more than just a point of interest for audiophiles or for those working in music. It has a lot of significant implications about the way we have been perceiving the world!
If you need any advice or support, then know that we at the Australian Tomatis Method are still here to help you. Please reach out if you need to, either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone to Francoise at 0414 444 915.