Our brains are wired so we can better hear ourselves speak, new study shows
Like the mute button on the TV remote control, our brains filter out unwanted noise so we can focus on what we’re listening to. But when it comes to following our own speech, a new brain study from the University of California, Berkeley, shows that instead of one homogenous mute button, we have a network of volume settings that can selectively silence and amplify the sounds we make and hear. Activity in the auditory cortex when we speak and listen is amplified in some regions of the brain and muted in others. In this image, the black line represents muting activity when we speak. (Courtesy of Adeen Flinker) Neuroscientists from UC Berkeley, UCSF and Johns Hopkins University tracked the electrical signals emitted from the brains of hospitalized epilepsy patients. Their findings, published today (Dec. 8, 2010) in the Journal of Neuroscience, offer new clues about how we hear ourselves above the noise of our surroundings and monitor what we say.