Want to Whisper Something Nice? Use the Left Ear

Researchers find a pronounced preference through brain scans
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2023 4:00 PM CDT
We Like Hearing Nice Sounds in Our Left Ears
   (Getty / Image Source)

If you've ever noticed a subtle bias toward your left ear when enjoying some pleasant singing or the mellifluous voice of your favorite podcaster, it's not just you. IFL cites a study published in Frontiers in Neuroscience that details how a team of Swiss researchers discovered that our brains truly prefer pleasing human sounds (including laughter) that come from our left-hand side. Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne conducted an experiment with 13 participants—a mix of men and women in their mid-20s—who were treated to a range of sounds coming from their left, front, or right. They heard everything from positive human vocalizations such as erotic sounds to harsh sounds such as screaming or neutral ones such as wind.

The research was performed using functional magnetic resonance imaging, and the results showed that the early stages of sound-processing areas in the brain lit up like a Christmas tree when positive human sounds came from the left. “Our findings suggest that the nature of a sound, its emotional valence, and its spatial origin are first identified and processed there,” says study co-author Dr. Tiffany Grisendi, per Neuroscience News. Positive vocalizations from the right, or negative or neutral sounds from any direction, didn't register as much. It's not clear as to why our brains have this left-side love affair with positive human sounds, or whether this is a particularly human trait. The takeaway from all this at Science Alert: "The next time you whisper sweet-nothings into someone's ear, you might want to target their left side." (More scientific study stories.)

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