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What happens if you sever an 'ear' nerve?
December 26, 2009 3:39 PM   Subscribe

If I severed the sound carrying nerve from an ear to my brain, would I hear nothing or some terrible noise?
posted by Frasermoo to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You would definitely not hear sounds from the real world. Whether or not you would hear some terrible noise would depend on the extent and nature of the damage.
posted by fake at 4:05 PM on December 26, 2009


People with a tumor which squeezes of that nerve experience loss of sound, a ringing or roaring sound, and vertigo.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:23 PM on December 26, 2009


The brain very quickly (in seconds or minutes) learns to ignore constant inputs. Assuming severing the nerve meant "no input" and not "vary input because of a nerve in agony", your subjective experience would quickly be of nothing.
posted by orthogonality at 4:35 PM on December 26, 2009


My sister recently had two vestibular schwannomas removed about a year ago. While the tumors were growing, she experienced progressively worsening hearing loss. Now that the nerve is severed, she is deaf in that ear. She never reported any ringing or roaring.
posted by epj at 7:07 PM on December 26, 2009


There are cases of the severing of a nerve resulting in perceived signal, rather than the loss of signal. In one of Atul Gawande's books, a woman who was experiencing itching had a nerve cut. The itching became intolerably worse.

So while normally you should experience hearing loss, you might wind up with something akin to tintinnitis.
posted by musofire at 8:17 PM on December 26, 2009


Some people have reported hearing odd things like music when suffering profound hearing loss. Check out this podcast for details.
posted by MasterShake at 2:09 AM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The auditory nerve to my right ear was severed when I was a child. I am completely deaf in that ear, but suffered from tinnitus for many years. It was very annoying - I thought a bee had flown in my ear at first (in my defence, I was only nine!). I guess I became used to it, because I don't notice it now. Apart from that, there's no hearing at all.
posted by meosl at 5:46 AM on December 27, 2009


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