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See Why We Do Not Hear Our Own Footsteps

Have you ever been walking down a lonely street then heard someone’s footsteps behind you? Or have you ever gotten annoyed by someone else’s annoyingly loud footsteps?

Many times, we get irked when we hear loud footsteps of other people, but have you ever wondered why we do not ever hear our own footsteps. Wait, I’m not talking about the footsteps that are made when one intentionally drags his/her feet on the ground oh. I’m referring to our everyday normal footfalls.

Most times, we do not hear the sounds we make. It’s absolutely normal, let me tell you why:

It is mainly due to our brains. I’m sure you have heard that the brain can actually filter out some things to make life easier for you, like seeing the nose. Everybody sees his/her nose but the brain filters out the sight as unimportant. This is just like it.

However, in the case of our footsteps and body sounds, the brain doesn’t just filter the sounds for comfort. Scientists have proved that our brain mostly filters those normal body sounds to help us be more alert to or surroundings. It works in this mechanism

The brain expects our footsteps to sound in a particular way, and when it does, the neurons in our auditory cortex do not respond to that expected sound. However, the moment there is a change or an unexpected sound come in, the neurons respond immediately and alerts us to the change.

  • Not Just Footsteps

This sound filtering mechanism doesn’t work for or footsteps only, other body sounds like breathing and even the sound of your keystroke while typing are usually overlooked by the brain. It’s evident in most heavy breathers as they do not even know that they are heavy breathers. The mechanism also comes into play when we talk, sing or play instruments. It’s what tells us that a particular note or key is wrong.

You would usually have an idea in your head for what sound you’d like to produce, ay when you sing for example. But when practicing, and getting it wrong, your auditory cortex gives a large response, telling you that sound isn’t right. But when you’re hitting the right note, it stays pretty silent.

Amazing how the brain works right?



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