Science Shows Humans Like To Hear Things On Only One Side Of Their Body

A new study found that most humans prefer hearing out of their left ear over the right one.

By Britta DeVore | Updated

Sure, you’ve heard of selective hearing before, but did you know that we as humans actually have one ear that we prefer to listen with? Hot on the heels of the discovery of the world’s oldest brain and the new information about the early days of brain surgery, neuroscientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne University Hospital, and the University of Lausanne in Switzerland have reached a strange finding according to Frontiers – our brains prefer left hearing over right.

During their study, the researchers enlisted the help of 13 adults by hitting them with pleasant sounds like laughter and learned that more activity was found in left-hearing people. While it’s not clear yet as to why sounds coming in from the left are more enjoyable than those coming from the right, the finding was a major step forward for how further studies will be conducted. 

Not the first of its kind, the left-hearing findings only further bolster previous attempts at better understanding how we as humans input information. In the past, scientists have discovered that the left ear is better at picking up someone’s tone, a discovery that served as a building block for the left hearing theory. One reason this could be the preferred ear to take in info from is that the left ear drives information to the right hemisphere of the auditory cortex first, better allowing us to process emotion.

The previous theory was that because the right ear was closer to the right hemisphere of the auditory cortex, it would be the better choice to receive emotional information. Thanks to the latest study, this was determined to not be the case as the subjects’ left, right, and center hearing were tested with the left giving the most noticeable neurological response. As one of the neuroscientists on the case explained, the same couldn’t be said for the center or right tests with the left being the obvious winner. 

What’s even more interesting is that when they flipped the study on its head and ran “neutral or negative emotional valence,” it didn’t have the same effect on the left side. In many situations, all parts of our hearing work together and take in the sounds filling the air around us but when it comes to this particular study, it’s all about the left ear’s hearing that transfers the positive tones and voices to our brains. 

What lies beyond this discovery of right, center, and left hearing is unclear, but researchers plan to pour more time and resources into better understanding why this is the case. Referred to as “a uniquely human characteristic,” similar scenarios haven’t been found in other creatures. Once more is understood, the scientists are hoping that they’ll better understand how other things like hand preference could be related.

Although many questions still need to be answered when it comes to science and our galaxy, this study is just one further step forward for how we understand one of our primary bodily functions. With Elon Musk hoping to implant brain chips in our heads, understanding how our right, center, and left hearing works is definitely something we’re keener on.