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Genes Influence the Ability to Listen Two Things at a Time

ability was due to genetic differences, a magnitude that is comparable to well-known inherited traits such as type 1 diabetes and height.

Conversely, the ability to understand the filtered words showed high correlation among all twins, indicating that variation in that skill is primarily due to differences in environment.

Scientists believe that problems with dichotic listening ability are often due to a lesion or disconnect between the brain's right and left hemispheres. When we listen to someone talking, speech entering the right ear travels in large part to the left side of the brain, where language is processed.

Speech entering the left ear travels first to the right side of the brain before crossing to the brains language center on the left side by way of the corpus callosum, a pathway connecting the brain's right and left hemispheres.

Todays finding that normal twins show such wide variation in their dichotic listening abilities, and that the differences are mostly due to genetic variation, adds a new perspective to our understanding of auditory processing disorders.

These disorders may affect as many as seven percent of school-aged children in the United States and often appear alongside language and learning disorders, including dyslexia. APDs also affect older adults and stroke victims and can limit the successfulness of hearing aids in the treatment of hearing loss.

The researchers suggest that scientists may be able to fine-tune their understanding of what an APD is and the role these disorders play in the development of language and learning disorders.


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