The Effects of Headphones Essay

The Effects of Headphones Essay.

Loud music on headphones causes deafness by having a similar effect on nerves as MS Loud music played on earphones causes deafness by having a similar effect on nerves as multiple sclerosis (MS), scientists have learned. New research shows that noise levels above 110 decibels strip insulation from nerve fibres carrying signals from the ear to the brain. Loss of the protective coating, called myelin, disrupts electrical nerve signals. The same process, this time due to an attack from the immune system, damages nerves in the brain and results in MS.

Loud noises are well known to lead to hearing problems such as temporary deafness or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). But this is the first time scientists have been able to identify the underlying damage to nerve cells. The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Lead researcher Dr Martine Hamann, from the University of Leicester, said “The research allows us to understand the pathway from exposure to loud noises to hearing loss.

Dissecting the cellular mechanisms underlying this condition is likely to bring a very significant healthcare benefit to a wide population.

The work will help prevention as well as progression into finding appropriate cures for hearing loss.” The scientists found that myelin lost as a result of noise exposure regrows in time, meaning hearing can recover. “We now understand why hearing loss can be reversible in certain cases,” Dr Hamann added. “We showed that the sheath around the auditory nerve is lost in about half of the cells we looked at, a bit like stripping the electrical cable linking an amplifier to the loudspeaker. The effect is reversible and after three months, hearing has recovered and so has the sheath around the auditory nerve.” The work is part of ongoing research into the effects of loud noises on the cochlea nucleus, a brainstem region that receives sound signals from the inner ear. The team has already shown that damage to cells in the cochlea nucleus can cause tinnitus.

The effect of headset and earphone on reducing electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone toward human head


Studies show that exposure to the electromagnetic wave for a certain period of time will leads to health problem such as headaches, or even worse, brain cancer. Scientist have known that this radiation might cause human biological damage through heating effects since human body is made up of approximately 65-70% water, electrolytes and ions. Radio frequency radiation emitted from mobile phone will interact with human body and interfere with human body’s natural healing resulted displacement of electrolytes and ions within the body. This paper discussed on the analysis conducted to study the effect of electromagnetic radiation (thermal radiation) of mobile phones with different frequencies via experimental works. The experiment was conducted in a laboratory using a volunteer (human).

The period of operation is 45 minutes as the talking time on the phone. Thermal imaging technique is used to monitor and capture the temperature distribution during the experimental analysis for every 5 minutes interval. Images will be collected and analyzed using graphical plot. Devices such as Bluetooth headset and earphone are also used to study either this equipment are effective to reduce the effect of thermal radiation toward human head or not. The result shows that mobile phone serving GSM 900 MHz has the highest temperature increment compare to mobile phone serving GSM 1800 MHz. It is also shown that GSM 900 MHz has greater thermal radiation effect or heating effect. By using Bluetooth headset and earphone device when talking via mobile phone, the result shows lower radiation since direct radiations from the mobile phone antenna was reduced.

Effects of Headset, Flight Workload, Hearing Ability, and Communications Message Quality on Pilot Performance


Objective: This study was designed to determine the effects of hearing loss, aviation headset type, flight workload complexity, and communication signal quality on pilots’ performance in an army rotary-wing flight simulator. Background: To maintain flight status, army aviators who do not meet current audiometric standards require a hearing loss waiver, which is based on speech intelligibility in quiet conditions. Because hearing loss characteristics of hearing-impaired aviators can vary greatly, and because performance is likely also influenced by degree of flight workload and communication demand, it was expected that performance among hearing-impaired aviators would also vary. Method: Participants were 20 army helicopter pilots. Pilots flew three flights in a full motion-based helicopter simulator, with a different headset configuration and varying flight workload levels and communication signal quality characterizing each flight.

Objective flight performance parameters of heading, altitude, and airspeed deviation and air traffic control command read-backs were measured. Results: Statistically significant results suggest that high levels of flight workload, especially in combination with poor communications signal quality, lead to deficits in flight performance and speech intelligibility. Conclusion: These results support a conclusion that factors other than hearing thresholds and speech intelligibility in quiet should be considered when evaluating helicopter pilots’ flight safety. The results also support a recommendation that hearing-impaired pilots use assistive communication technology and not fly with strictly passive headsets. Application: The combined effects of flight environment with individual hearing levels should be considered when making recommendations concerning continued aviation flight status and those concerning communications headsets used in high-noise cockpits.

Earphones Potentially as Dangerous as Noise from Jet Engines, Researchers Find

Aug. 29, 2012 — Turning the volume up too high on your headphones can damage the coating of nerve cells, leading to temporary deafness, scientists from the University of Leicester have shown for the first time. Earphones or headphones on personal music players can reach noise levels similar to those of jet engines, the researchers said. Noises louder than 110 decibels are known to cause hearing problems such as temporary deafness and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), but the University of Leicester study is the first time the underlying cell damage has been observed. The study has been published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. University of Leicester researcher Dr Martine Hamann of the Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology, who led the study, said: “The research allows us to understand the pathway from exposure to loud noises to hearing loss. Dissecting the cellular mechanisms underlying this condition is likely to bring a very significant healthcare benefit to a wide population.

The work will help prevention as well as progression into finding appropriate cures for hearing loss.” Nerve cells that carry electrical signals from the ears to the brain have a coating called the myelin sheath, which helps the electrical signals travel along the cell. Exposure to loud noises — i.e. noise over 110 decibels — can strip the cells of this coating, disrupting the electrical signals. This means the nerves can no longer efficiently transmit information from the ears to the brain. However, the coating surrounding the nerve cells can reform, letting the cells function again as normal. This means hearing loss can be temporary, and full hearing can return, the researchers said. Dr Hamann explained: “We now understand why hearing loss can be reversible in certain cases.

We showed that the sheath around the auditory nerve is lost in about half of the cells we looked at, a bit like stripping the electrical cable linking an amplifier to the loudspeaker. The effect is reversible and after three months, hearing has recovered and so has the sheath around the auditory nerve.” The findings are part of ongoing research into the effects of loud noises on a part of the brain called the dorsal cochlear nucleus, the relay that carries signals from nerve cells in the ear to the parts of the brain that decode and make sense of sounds. The team has already shown that damage to cells in this area can cause tinnitus — the sensation of ‘phantom sounds’ such as buzzing or ringing. The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Medisearch, GlaxoSmithkline and the Royal Society.

Headphone Music Eases Anxiety During Prostate Biopsies

Jan. 9, 2012 — Tuning in to tune out may be just what’s needed for men undergoing a prostate biopsy, according to researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute.

The Duke team found that noise-cancelling headphones playing a classical melody may reduce the pain and anxiety of the often uncomfortable procedure. The finding, published this month in the journal Urology, points to a simple and inexpensive way to help an estimated 700,000 U.S. men who undergo a prostate biopsy a year. The procedure is essentially the only way to diagnose prostate cancer, which strikes one in six men during their lifetimes. “It’s a matter of shifting attention, so the music provides a distraction from the procedure,” said Matvey Tsivian, MD, a Duke urologic oncology fellow and lead author. For the study, which was conceived by medical students and had no outside funding, the Duke team enrolled 88 patients and randomly assigned them to three groups. The first had no headphones; the second wore the noise-cancelling headphones but heard no music; and the third wore the headphones and listened to Bach concertos. Blood pressure was taken before and after a trans-rectal biopsy, which is an intrusive procedure involving an ultrasound probe and a spring-loaded needle that has a loud trigger.

The noise alone causes many men to flinch even if they report no pain, and 20 percent of men experience high stress and anxiety about the procedure. Among study participants in both groups with no musical intervention, diastolic blood pressure remained elevated after the procedure, compared to before. But the men who wore the headphones and listened to Bach had no such spike in blood pressure. Diastolic blood pressure often rises as a function of stress and anxiety. Study participants who had the music also reported less pain, as measured by questionnaires. The researchers said they did not determine whether the choice of music might have had an impact. “We couldn’t study all the permutations and variables, but it’s evident that this kind of approach works,” said Thomas Polascik, MD, director of Urologic Oncology at the Duke Cancer Institute and senior author of the study. “This is something that could be broadly employed. It’s easy and inexpensive — a set of headphones and music. That’s it.” In addition to Tsivian and Polascik, study authors included Peter Qi; Masaki Kimura; Valerie Chen; Stephanie Chen; and Tong J Gan.

At Work, Do Headphones Really Help?

“You call their name one, two, three, four times, and they’re not responding,” says Ms. Yu, director of interiors in Houston for PageSoutherlandPage, an architecture and engineering firm. “You dial their extension and they’re not picking up. Pretty soon you’re throwing rubber bands across the wall.” The culprit: ear buds playing music and noise-canceling headphones. Roughly three-quarters of Ms. Yu’s co-workers wear them, and they’re increasingly becoming de rigueur ear-wear in offices throughout the country. Many people argue that headphones are good at blocking distractions. And while a few employers ban their use, most tolerate it as a way for employees to regain some privacy in an open-plan office. Research offers little support for the idea that listening to music improves concentration, says Robert Desimone, director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. In one of several small Taiwanese studies, listening to music with lyrics was linked to lower scores on tests of concentration in a study of 102 college students, published online earlier this year by the journal Work.

In separate research, listening to hip-hop music was linked to a significant reduction in reading-test scores, based on a study of 133 adults published in 2010 in the Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. A third study of 89 students ages 19 to 28, led by researchers at Fu Jen Catholic University in Taiwan, found that workers who either loved or hated music being played where they were working scored lowest on tests of attention, compared with workers who didn’t have strong feelings about the music or who worked in rooms without music. People naturally pay more attention to music they strongly like or dislike, hurting their ability to focus, the study says. In the office, listening to music with lyrics while trying to read or write can distract employees by overtaxing verbal-processing regions of the brain, neuroscientists say. The prefrontal cortex, the brain’s control center, must work harder to force itself not to process any strong verbal stimuli, such as catchy lyrics, that compete with the work you’re attempting, Dr. Desimone says. The more cognitive work required to screen out unwanted input, the fewer cognitive resources remain for the task at hand. And the longer you try to concentrate amid competing distractions, the worse your performance is likely to be.

“Attention takes mental effort, and we can get mentally tired,” he says. Individuals respond differently to music, scientists say. For some, a familiar piece of music without lyrics can serve as a sound-blocker, helping screen out a colleague’s loud voice. Using noise-reducing headphones can be an even stronger aid to concentration. Headphones can screen out as much as three-fourths of office noise, says Steven Orfield, president of Orfield Laboratories Inc., an architectural design, research and testing company in Minneapolis. But when you take them off, “for a couple of minutes, everything is going to sound way too loud for you” while your ears adjust, Mr. Orfield says. “You may be speaking louder” to others. Noise-canceling headphones, which were developed by Bose Corp. for use by airline pilots more than 20 years ago, are often marketed to air travelers; they work especially well on planes because they help cancel the low-frequency rumble of jet engines. In an office, they may help quiet the higher-frequency sounds of speech and other ordinary activity, so “the user enjoys a controllable, comfortable level of loudness,” says David Reynolds, a facility management consultant in Jackson, Miss. This reduces fatigue for some people, he says. But headphones or ear buds can cause resentment among co-workers. Their use was cited as a major office-etiquette problem in a 2010 survey of 1,400 chief information officers by Robert Half Technology.

Micki Washington, 33, a project manager at PageSoutherlandPage, says she needs music to work but tunes in to instrumentals or Brazilian jazz, with lyrics in a language she can’t understand. (Music with English lyrics can be so distracting that “I’ll have a tendency to sing along.”) She plays louder, faster music in the morning to help her wake up, and softer, classical tunes when she needs to concentrate on a proposal. “That’s how I operate. I have to have some kind of background sound,” she says. Employees at PageSoutherlandPage are free to do “whatever aids productivity,” says Kurt Neubek, associate principal. While the company’s open-office plan aids collaboration, “everybody needs heads-down time, and putting on headphones is an easy way to do that.” Patrick Ramsey, 24, a software engineer at, a Denver-based Internet domain-name registry and Web-hosting company, also listens mostly to instrumental music on ear buds, but only when he is writing code. Music interferes when he tries to write email or document summaries, but its “repetitive beat” helps him with the logical, step-by-step process of programming, he says.

He focuses so deeply that he almost jumped out of his skin when his boss, Bill Mushkin, tapped his shoulder recently while he was tuned into his favorite jazz-reggae group, Thievery Corporation. Mr. Mushkin,’s founder and CEO, says he just wanted to say hi and ask Mr. Ramsey for one of the bananas on his desk. He lets his 30 employees work in whatever way is best for them, he says. “The challenge is giving them what they need to do their jobs without letting the whole place go completely insane.” The trend toward open office design, with low or no partitions and lots of glass walls, can increase distractions and has made headphones more popular. Projected 2012 unit sales of headphones and earphones are up 41% since 2008, the Consumer Electronics Association says, and many of those new purchases will wind up at the office. Alan Henry once sat at a cubicle on a previous job positioned between a conference-room door and the front door for the entire office, he says.

Traffic past his desk was so heavy that he wore noise-canceling headphones, glossy black “Beats by Dr. Dre,” nearly 70% of the time. When two co-workers grumbled that Mr. Henry was unapproachable, he explained his code: If they approached him and he removed the headphones from only one ear, he didn’t have time to talk. But if he took off the entire headset, that “means I have time, and pull up a chair,” says Mr. Henry, 32, of Washington, D.C., a writer for, a software and personal productivity site. The World Health Organization (WHO) / International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a press release on May 31, 2011 advising cellular phone radiation may cause cancer, reversing their earlier position assuring consumers that no adverse health effects were established. WHO now includes mobile phone use in their same carcinogenic hazard category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.|

Millions of people use cell phones and other wired and wireless products every day, with or without a headset. Despite assurances from manufacturers and service providers that these products are safe, the global debates and controversy over the health effects of these products continues. It is important to note the FDA states “There is currently insufficient scientific basis for concluding either that wired or wireless communication products and technologies are safe or that they pose a risk to millions of users,” and no regulatory agency has stated that and wired or wireless product is actually safe to use. There have been numerous reported studies* conducted by respected scientists confirming that up to 60 percent of the radiation emitted by a cell phone penetrates the head and neck of the user (see News Articles & Papers and Links).

This increases the temperature of the brain and surrounding tissue and equally as significant, also affects protective biological mechanisms far below what can be measured at the thermal level using current Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) test procedures and standards. SAR standards are used as the basis for determining cell phone safety worldwide. These studies* also present irrefutable evidence confirming that increased occurrences of the following symptoms and diseases can be directly attributed to the exposure of product operating frequencies and their associated power levels, and not their electric or magnetic fields. None of these symptoms or diseases are thermally induced, clearly indicating the SAR standards should not be used as the criteria for determining safety, nor have any of these symptoms been attributed to magnetic field emissions.

Background noise affects taste of foods, The level of background noise affects both the intensity of flavour and the perceived crunchiness of foods, researchers have found Blindfolded diners assessed the sweetness, saltiness, and crunchiness, as well as overall flavour, of foods as they were played white noise. While louder noise reduced the reported sweetness or saltiness, it increased the measure of crunch. It may go some way to explaining why airline food is notoriously bland – a phenomenon that drives airline catering companies to heavily season their foods.

“There’s a general opinion that aeroplane foods aren’t fantastic,” said Andy Woods, a researcher from Unilever’s laboratories and the University of Manchester. “I’m sure airlines do their best – and given that, we wondered if there are other reasons why the food would not be so good. One thought was perhaps the background noise has some impact,” he told BBC News. “Nasa gives their space explorers very strong-tasting foods, because for some reason thay can’t taste food that strongly – again, perhaps it’s the background noise. “There was no previous research on this, so we went about seeing if the hunch was correct.”


In a comparatively small study, 48 participants were fed sweet foods such as biscuits or salty ones such as crisps, while listening to silence or noise through headphones. Meanwhile they rated the intensity of the flavours and of their liking. In noisier settings, foods were rated less salty or sweet than they were in the absence of background noise, but were rated to be more crunchy. “The evidence points to this effect being down to where your attention lies – if the background noise is loud it might draw your attention to that, away from the food,” Dr Woods said. Dr Woods said that there may be implications in the work for industry. “We are still at an early stage of proceedings and this is a relatively small study to really draw definitive conclusions from,” he said, “but they suggest that the retail sector could well tailor their choice of food for a given environment.” Also in the group’s findings there is the suggestion that the overall satisfaction with the food aligned with the degree to which diners liked what they were hearing – a finding the researchers are pursuing in further experiments Does Listening to Music While Working Make You Less Productive?

In a previous column about the stress of working in an “open” office, I suggested that the popular practice of listening to music with earbuds or headphones not only cuts down on background noise but may also give employees a sense of control over their aural environment. But does having a constant soundtrack to your day also distract you from the task at hand? That depends on the task. Research shows that under some conditions, music actually improves our performance, while in other situations music makes it worse — sometimes dangerously so. Absorbing and remembering new information is best done with the music off, suggests a 2010 study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology. Adults aged 18 to 30 were asked to recall a series of sounds presented in a particular order. Participants’ performance suffered when music was played while they carried out the task as compared to when they completed the task in a quiet environment.

Nick Perham, the British researcher who conducted the study, notes that playing music you like can lift your mood and increase your arousal — if you listen to it before getting down to work. But it serves as a distraction from cognitively demanding tasks. That finding is key to understanding another condition under which music can improve performance: when a well-practiced expert needs to achieve the relaxed focus necessary to execute a job he’s done many times before. A number of studies have found, for example, that surgeons often listen to music in the operating room and that they work more effectively when they do. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that surgeons carrying out a task in the laboratory worked more accurately when music that they liked was playing. (Music that they didn’t like was second best, and no music was least helpful of all.)


Duke University Medical Center (2012, January 9). Headphone music eases anxiety during prostate biopsies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from

University of Leicester (2012, August 29). Earphones potentially as dangerous as noise from jet engines, researchers find.ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 18, 2013, from
XterNet. Mobile Phone Case with Radiation Protection. [Online] Available at Access on 28 August 2008

The Effects of Headphones Essay

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