Feeds

Why are we not irritated by the volume of our own voice?

WHAAAAAAAAT??

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Also in this week's column:

Why are we not irritated by the volume of our own voice?

Asked by Vincent Rot of Heemstede, The Netherlands

How can we stand our own shouting? After all, we're closer than anyone else to the source of the loud noise (unless we're shouting directly into their ear). So if they can't stand it, how can we?

The answer is actually fairly simple. It is related to another classic Odd Body Question: Why does my voice sound differently to others than it does to me? When we listen to our own voice, including when we shout, we are not hearing solely with our ears. We are also internally hearing a mostly liquid transmission through a series of bodily organs.

Speech begins at the larynx (voice box) from which a sound vibration emanates. Part of this vibration is conducted through the air. This part is what others hear when we speak. But another part of the vibration is directed through the various fluids and solids of our head.

Our inner and middle ears are located within caverns hollowed out of bone. In fact, this is the hardest portion of the human skull. The inner ear contains fluid, the middle ear contains air, and both are constantly pressing against each other. The larynx is also encased in soft tissue full of liquid.

Sound transmits differently through air than through solids and liquids. This difference accounts for nearly all of the tonal variations we hear compared to what others hear.

The volume of a voice depends upon many factors. One of these is the size of the resonance chamber of the upper respiratory tract. When this is constricted by a cold our voice is not as loud and sounds differently.

The skull and tissues insulate us from the volume of our own voice. Also, we project our voices away and not towards our ears. This lessens the volume of our voice that we hear. If you hold your hand in front of your mouth, your voice sounds louder since your hand reflects back the sound.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
So, just how do you say 'the mutt's nuts' in French?
Vital linguistic question interrupts LOHAN spaceplane mission
95 floors in 43 SECONDS: Hitachi's new ultra-high-speed lift
Guangzhou skyscraper denizens to hold on to hats
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
STEALTHY NANOROBOTS dress up as viruses, prepare to sneak into YOUR BODY
Cloaking techniques nicked from viruses tackle roadblocks on way to medical frontier
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.