The First Sense

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Your ability to pick up sounds decreases. You may also have problems maintaining your balance as you sit, stand, and walk.

Age-related hearing loss is called presbycusis. It affects both ears. Hearing, often the ability to hear high-frequency sounds, may decline. You may also have trouble telling the difference between certain sounds. Or, you may have problems hearing a conversation when there is background noise. If you are having trouble hearing, discuss your symptoms with your health care provider. One way to manage hearing loss is by getting fitted with hearing aids. Persistent, abnormal ear noise tinnitus is another common problem in older adults. Causes of tinnitus may include wax buildup or medicines that damage structures inside the ear.

If you have tinnitus, ask your provider how to manage the condition. Impacted ear wax can also cause trouble hearing and is common with age.

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Your provider can remove impacted ear wax. Vision occurs when light is processed by your eye and interpreted by your brain. Light passes through the transparent eye surface cornea. It continues through the pupil, the opening to the inside of the eye. The pupil becomes larger or smaller to control the amount of light that enters the eye.

The colored part of the eye is called the iris. It is a muscle that controls pupil size. After light passes through your pupil, it reaches the lens.

Aging changes in the senses: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

The lens focuses light on your retina the back of the eye. The retina converts light energy into a nerve signal that the optic nerve carries to the brain, where it is interpreted. All of the eye structures change with aging. The cornea becomes less sensitive, so you might not notice eye injuries. By the time you turn 60, your pupils may decrease to about one third of the size they were when you were The pupils may react more slowly in response to darkness or bright light.

The lens becomes yellowed, less flexible, and slightly cloudy. The fat pads supporting the eyes decrease and the eyes sink into their sockets. The eye muscles become less able to fully rotate the eye. As you age, the sharpness of your vision visual acuity gradually declines. The most common problem is difficulty focusing the eyes on close-up objects. This condition is called presbyopia. Reading glasses, bifocal glasses, or contact lenses can help correct presbyopia. You may be less able to tolerate glare. For example, glare from a shiny floor in a sunlit room can make it difficult to get around indoors.

You may have trouble adapting to darkness or bright light. Problems with glare, brightness, and darkness may make you give up driving at night. As you age, it gets harder to tell blues from greens than it is to tell reds from yellows. Using warm contrasting colors yellow, orange, and red in your home can improve your ability to see.

Sense - First Time

Keeping a red light on in darkened rooms, such as the hallway or bathroom, makes it easier to see than using a regular night light. With aging, the gel-like substance vitreous inside your eye starts to shrink. This can create small particles called floaters in your field of vision.

In most cases, floaters do not reduce your vision. But if you develop floaters suddenly or have a rapid increase in the number of floaters, you should have your eyes checked by a professional. Reduced peripheral vision side vision is common in older people. This can limit your activity and ability to interact with others.

It may be hard to communicate with people sitting next to you because you cannot see them well. Driving can become dangerous. The agenda is fluid, but generally the sessions start with the reading of a couple of books and some sight and sound movement activities. Afterwards, parents are asked if they want their child screened at the library. Last year, OPL hosted 24 sessions at all 12 of its locations—one hearing and one vision screening at each.

Several follow-up screenings confirmed his auditory struggles, and the boy was scheduled for surgery in January to relieve the pressure in his Eustachian tubes. Many Oregon public libraries have hosted vision screenings since the state legislature passed a bill in requiring all children to be checked for optical issues before entering kindergarten.

Having entered sensory science in the early s as a graduate student studying neuroscience at the University of London, McKernan has seen the trends change from her studies of neurotransmitter release at single synapses in the rat brain to the ability to now analyze the activity of hundreds of neurons at once. Researchers are beginning to learn how the brain integrates thousands of scattered bits of information into recognizable smells, tastes, and objects. And industry scientists are markedly more focused on applying this knowledge and learning to manipulate receptors that respond to the external environment or transmit information.

Smaller, yet significant efforts in industry also go toward developing treatments for hearing loss and vision problems. In addition to designing treatments for sensory system malfunctions, jobs are available in the private sector for neuroscientists who want to enrich the lives of our sentient selves.

Each receptor detects a discrete number of odorous molecules in the air and sends signals to the brain for processing. Researchers can grow their careers around expanding upon this basic knowledge or finding creative applications for this research. For example, there are about 60 scientists who focus exclusively on taste and smell at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Other Monell researchers investigate questions geared toward real-world solutions since some of their projects are funded by food, fragrance, and drug companies that are looking for advice. For example, a company may be interested in how to mask the bitter taste of a medicine.

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To address this, Monell researchers investigate how bitter taste receptors function or how bitterness interacts with other sensory information. With a world full of people buying food, wine, shampoo, and other sundries based on taste and smell, scientists will find no shortage of opportunities in companies that cater to the senses. For that reason, when interviewing job candidates Baydor looks for signs of creativity and the ability to design and run research projects. A good publication record or the ownership of patents often indicates these qualities, he says. Not all taste and smell research is geared toward improving products for human consumption; some research is designed to help with disease interventions.

With funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, she has been investigating how mosquitoes seek out their hosts using olfaction. Learning how to disrupt this ability could lead to interventions that end mosquito-transmitted diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever. In another project, Vosshall studies how hunger in Drosophila melanogaster intersects with their perception of smell.

The Boston-based nonprofit organization, The Klarman Family Foundation, supports the project because such avenues of research could shed light on the biological basis of eating disorders.