Ever Created Or Felt A Rumbling Sound In Your Ears? Not Everyone Can Do It

Ever Created Or Felt A Rumbling Sound In Your Ears? Not Everyone Can Do It

It's the tensor tympani that actually helps us create this sound and not everyone can do it voluntarily.

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Are you one of the few people who can voluntarily create a rumbling noise inside their own ears? While it may sound like a bizarre thing to do, you would be surprised to know that only a certain group of people have the ability to so. A post explaining how this happens took everyone by storm on Twitter. Some were amazed to learn that such a thing actually exists, others couldn't believe that they had finally found an explanation for this unique talent. There was also a group of individuals who simply confessed that they could not do it. 


The post shared by Italian engineer Massimo contained a labeled diagram of the inner portion of a human ear. It read: A part of the human population can voluntarily control the tensor tympani, a muscle within the ear. Contracting this muscle produces vibration and sound. The sound is usually described as a rumbling sound. According to a study, the tensor tympani is the largest muscle that sits in the middle ear. When people use their unusual abilities and contract the muscle located above the auditory tube, they are able to produce a rumbling noise, which is almost like the sound of thundering. 


People cannot voluntarily contract it commonly, however, unusual events have been recorded and only a few papers have documented its audiometric effects. Thus, it's not a new discovery that has suddenly been made. Renowned physiologist Johannes Müller discussed this contraction of the muscle in his1842 text Elements of Physiology Volume 2. Now, the role of the tensor tympani goes far beyond creating a rumbling noise. According to Science Alert, it plays a huge role in our hearing abilities. When you hear a noise or a sound, your eardrums vibrate. This sound is transferred to a series of bones - the malleus, incus, and stapes - which is then transmitted to the inner ear. 


The malleus, which is the closest to the eardrums, transfers the vibrations of the membrane to the incus. Now, the tensor tympani is connected to the malleus and when it contracts it pulls the malleus away from the eardrum creating tension in the eardrum membrane (tympanic membrane). This limits the malleus's ability to vibrate and dampens the vibrations transmitted through to the inner ear. So the tensor tympani does this reflexively every time there is a loud noise to protect the cells present in the inner ear from being damaged. 


Additionally, the muscle can mask low-frequency sounds, enabling it to hear high-frequency sounds better. It also contracts slightly whenever there are self-generated sounds like coughing, chewing, speaking, and yawning. Every time the tensor timpani contracts, it makes a sound and this is what you hear. Even if you contract it at will you are literally hearing the sound your own muscle creates. The feeling is like the noise-muffling effect you experience when you cover your ears. For some, this occurrence could be really alarming as they don't know why it is happening. 


A 2013 case report describes a similar situation when a 27-year-old man had approached a doctor "complaining of voluntarily evoked bilateral tinnitus." That's when he learned that he was able to voluntarily control his both tensor tympani muscles. Similarly, many Twitter users recently found out about their hidden superpowers. Replying to the post shared by Massimo, user Tom Carroll wrote: I can do this! Woo! Didn’t know it was an uncommon thing. I have to close my eyes though...anyone else? Another Crystal McClean expressed: I’ve always had this but no one could tell me why! I’ve told my family not to talk when I’m yawning, stretching, or cutting onions because I can’t hear them due to the noise in my ears!


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