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The Difference Between Listening and Hearing
Posted by Jennifer Spiller on December 10, 2018
Have you ever caught yourself looking at someone, knowing that she just said something because you heard it, but you have no idea what she said? Hearing is passive: it is the brain picking up the sound. Listening, on the other hand, is active. The brain needs to take the sound and interpret for meaning. Being distracted, tired, or overwhelmed can affect the brain’s ability to interpret sound. So the next time you wonder if you have a hearing loss, ask yourself, “Am I paying attention?”. An interesting side note: a study measured the brain waves of people listening to sounds while performing a visual task. When the task was simple, the brain showed significant activity when a sound was presented. However, when the visual task was complicated, the brain showed less activity when the sound was played. Researchers hypothesize this is because as the brain becomes involved in complex tasks it ignores other environmental input. We may not be as good at multi-tasking as we think!