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Acta Otolaryngol. 2011 Dec;131(12):1279-85. doi: 10.3109/00016489.2011.607845. Epub 2011 Sep 5.

Experiments on the mechanism of underwater hearing.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Rostock, Germany.



The findings suggest that underwater sound perception is realized by the middle ear rather than by bone conduction, at least in shallow water conditions.


To prove whether underwater sound perception is effected by bone conduction or by conduction via the middle ear.


Five divers, breathing through snorkels, were tested in a swimming pool, to determine whether a sound was louder when the acoustic source placed was in front of the head in comparison with a lateral application facing the ear region. The second experiment investigated whether sound perception is influenced by ear protection plugs in underwater conditions. Also, the effect of a 5 mm thick neoprene hood was determined, with and without an additional perforation in the ear region.


Sounds were louder when applied from a position laterally facing the ear, louder without than with a protection plug, louder without than with a neoprene hood on, and louder when the neoprene hood had a perforation in the region of the ear than with an intact hood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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