How Loud Noises Can Make You Jump
Have you ever noticed how loud noises make you jump, but become less startling the next few times you hear them?
It’s called ‘acoustic habituation’. And now scientists at the University of Western Ontario have figured out why this happens. They’ve discovered the molecular mechanism that controls the response to loud sounds.
And the best part? They say it could pave the way for better treatments for mental illness such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorder.
How does acoustic habituation work?
The brain is pretty brilliant. In the case of acoustic habituation, it’s able to filter out disruptive sounds around us, so we can stay focused on what matters. If this process is disturb, it could signal an autism spectrum disorder.
How was the discovery made?
The research team used powerful tools to identify parts of the central nervous system that can be targeted using medication, so disruptions in the acoustic habituation process have less of an impact.
The results were published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Lead investigator Susanne Schmid said, "By doing this we are better able to understand what's going wrong in people that do not
"It also means we might be able to improve habituation by targeting this mechanism and thereby improve their sensory filtering."
By doing so, the researchers believe people with autism spectrum disorders or schizophrenia may be able to better manage their sound sensitivities. It could even improve their brain function.