BOB HIRSHON (Host):
How ears protect themselves. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
(SFX: Ozzy Osbourne concert)
Rock concerts and fireworks didn’t exist when ears evolved, which is why today we’re so vulnerable to hearing loss. But now, scientists have discovered that short-term hearing loss can protect against permanent ear damage. University of California, San Diego neuroscientist Allen Ryan and his colleagues found that in mice, exposure to loud noise turns on a gene called p2rx2, which causes temporary hearing impairment. Mice without a functional p2rx2 gene don’t experience temporary hearing loss, but are more likely to develop permanent hearing loss as noise levels go up.
ALLEN RYAN (UCSD Medical School):
Temporary loss is part of the protection mechanism of the ear.
(Ozzy Osbourne concert)
But, Ozzy Osbourne fans, there are limits: the ear can take only short bouts of loud noise before sustaining permanent damage. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.