Hearing with Two Ears
Natural hearing uses two ears
The human brain is organized to receive and process sound from two ears. This is called binaural hearing. Binaural hearing can help you figure out where a sound is coming from (sound localization), have a conversation when other people around you are talking (hearing in noise), and listen more easily to sounds and conversations (natural and balanced hearing). When it comes to hearing, two ears are better than one.
Sound localization is the ability to determine where sounds are coming from. The ability to localize sounds has clear safety implications―it can be critical to hear someone call out a warning or to tell where a car is coming from while crossing the street.
Hearing in noise
Hearing with two ears can give us the amazing ability to “tune in” to someone we are trying to hear and understand when we are surrounded by background noise. Our auditory system combines and compares the sounds from each ear, and our brain separates out what we are trying to hear from the background noise.1
Natural and balanced
Hearing with both ears gives us more natural, balanced sound and can make listening easier.
Hearing with only one ear can be very difficult
Profound unilateral hearing loss, also known as single sided deafness (SSD), occurs when a person receives and processes sound from only one ear. Many adults with hearing in only one ear report major difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise and determining the direction from which a sound is coming. They also report that hearing with only one ear requires extra work and leaves them feeling tired by the end of the day.2 The good news is that there are many treatments available to help people with this type of hearing loss, like hearing aids and direct bone conduction systems
If you think you may have a hearing loss or you have hearing aids but feel that you are not receiving enough benefit, take our Hearing Quiz to find out what type of treatment may be best for you.
References: 1. Feurstein J. Monaural versus binaural hearing: ease of listening, word recognition, and attentional effort. Ear & Hearing 1992;13:80-86. 2. Giolas T, Wark D. Communication problems associated with unilateral hearing loss. J Speech Hear Disord, Volume 41 1967;336-343.