The Chemistry of Communication via Sound


Communication, is a necessary part of our existence, it defines our actions, interactions with others, and of course; the ability to form key relationships amongst ourself to lead us to further success. Communication, is a rather vague descriptor on the information about to be portrayed, infact this form of communication that is discussed is purely on the topic of Audio based communication, that is the voice and sounds received from our surroundings. This topic is to be described on the basis of how sounds are interpreted by our audio receptors (or simply our ears), how they traverse to the brain, and how we react to this input. All of which is to be broken down to the miniscule level of chemical processes, that is how molecules, chemicals, and forces of pressures and waves affect our interpretation of input based sound. Moving on to a more intriguing note, the author decided to choose this topic specifically for two reasons: sound defines our lives, in every aspect; from learning to a basic jaunt of speech, it acts a method of knowlege transport. Two, this topic concerned the author by a curious thought, that is the author decided to delve into the deeper meaning of the chemistry of these processes, to better understand how, and why sound is so essential to our existence. Finally, the author would like to add that it sound affects our lives in so many ways, from making transactions in the supermarket, to understanding key topics discussed by a lecturer, without communication via sound, so much would be lost in potential knowledge, and of course, relationships between our society. Thus, it is key to see how chemistry affects this topic, for without it many forms of knowledge, culture, and general communication would be lost.

Composition of ...

    1. The outer Ear
      1. Acts as a dish for catching audible sounds
      2. Made of cartilage, which is made of; chondrocytes a protein, and collagen another protein
      3. Surrounding the cartilage, is simply is calcium based bone
    2. The Eardrum or Tympanic Membrane
      1. Similar to the composition of skin
      2. Made of: fibrous tissue, and mucosa
    3. Bones of the Ear:
      1. Incus, Malleus, and Stapes
      2. Composed of mostly calcium, but have a slight composition of cartilage
    4. Ear chemicals, or solutions to transfer sound:
      1. Chochlea Fluid-
      2. Perilymph fluid- sodium salts (predominate + electrolyte) (potassium main cation) about 80-90 mV usually less in charge than Endolymph
      3. Endolymph- more positive in composition than Perilymph (more K than Per.), mostly potassium over sodium, 80-90 mV in electrical charge
    5. Cochlea- is made up of a bony substance, which is simply slightly soften bone
    6. The inside is lined with epithelial tissue, which is a substance filled with blood vessels and padding to keep foreign solutions out
    7. Stereocilia, or the hair cells:
      1. Composed of positive Calcium ions, they react with cochlear fluids
      2. Has voltage Calcium Chambers, that connect the cell to the auditory nerve
    8. Auditory Nerve:
      1. Bipolar and polar connections, similar to that of neurons
      2. Have dendrites, and have the ability to jump “electrical signals”
      3. Voltage-dependent sodium channels, which react with the cochlea hairs, and fluids
      4. Conductivity to certain electrical forces
    9. Brain Stem:
      1. Composed of cranial nerves
      2. Bundles of Neurons, and axons
      3. Which are surrounded by packets of fats and proteins that keep the structure together
      4. Carbon based, and calcium bonded
    10. Thalamus:
      1. Also consisting of neurons, but of thalamic neurons
      2. Mostly carbon based, and calcium transmitting items
      3. Potassium, sodium, Phosphorous, Sulfur, Chloride, and Magnesium
    11. Auditory Cortex:
      1. Similar to the thalamus it consists of neurons
      2. Proteins and binding fats
      3. Along with a grand slew of elements, about the same as listed in the Thalamus.
    12. Dopamine
      1. Acts as a catalyst to memory retention and recollection
      2. C[8]H[11]NO[2]
      3. Carbon, Hydrogen, and Nitric Oxide
    13. Binds to the synapsis to generate senses of Euphoria

Main Chemicals, Compounds, Components

    1. The Brain
      1. Motor Areas: Especially the primary Motor Cortex and Motor associations Area
      2. The brain receives input from the Auditory Nerve, which is sent in electrical impulses to the brain,
      3. Dopamine and Sereine key to working process
      4. Via Primary Auditory Pathway, in which electrical signals powered by neuronal transmissions send received input from the cochlea
        1. Then to the brain stem
        2. Then to the auditory cortex
        3. The Thalamus
        4. Then back to the auditory cortex to be memorized
    2. The Input Receiver (aka. the ear):
      1. The cochlea: Sound is sent by waves of energy is then received by the ear
      2. Stereocilia, small hairs of the cochlea detect passing signals by the effects of the chemicals:
        1. Perilymph Fluid
        2. Endolymph Fluid
      3. Which acts as a electrical transfer point to discern such signals and tones.
      4. Following input receiving the electrical frequency varies to discern certain tones, which is then sent to the Auditory Nerve.
      5. Then of course to the above segments.

Further Explanation on Certain Chemicals

    1. Dopamine- C[8]H[11]NO[2]
      1. Aids in remembering sounds, and conversations in the communal form, if low in the body the synapses may occur, but will be lost.
      2. Generates a sense of Euphoria, tends to aid significantly in learning
      3. Bonds with neurons, depending on the level of the chemical, and affects it as a form of catalyst, speeding up reactions, and retention of information
    2. Serotonin- C[10]H[12]N[2]O
      1. Similar to Dopamine, it is easily bondable to the neuron receptors, and allows feelings of Euphoria, it aids in building memory of a sound or language
    3. Endolymph Fluid- composed mainly of electrical reactive sodium salts and a large portion of electrolytes, (Potassium being the main cation) conducts about 80-90 mV usually less in charge than the Endolymph
      1. This fluid acts mainly as a separator for lower voltage signals
      2. This is key in sound communication, without these chemicals the sound waves would likely never be translated into electrical currents, which of course are key in the exchange of information
    4. Perilymph Fluid- More positive in electrical reactive substances, in which Potassium is extremely common, sodium is also present, prefers 90mV + in electrical charge
      1. This fluid is mostly reactive to higher sound generated electricity than its counterpart.
    5. General Brain Composition:
      1. Brainstem, Temporal Lobe, Auditory Perception Region
        1. General composed of neurons, axons, and bundles, all of which are interconnected with dendrites and linking fats/proteins
      2. Potassium, sodium, Phosphorous, Sulfur, Chloride, and Magnesium

Chemistry's Role

    1. These main chemicals (Dopamine, Sereine, and Cochlear Fluids) are all naturally occuring.
      1. Being formed in the human body by basic genetic encoding
      2. None, are usually developed in a lab because it is usually impractical, however: Dopamine and Sereine, are usually base ingredients in many antidepressant medications and such
        1. These, when developed in a lab, are usually collected from a subject, such as an animal with unnaturally high levels of the substance
        2. Or are developed with genetic harvested material and “grown” in a harbored environment, allowing for the easy collection of the substance.
      3. Therefore, due to these chemical compounds being natural, and and not man-made, these are than products of constant chemical reactions and molecular formation during human development.
      4. Chemistry’s role in these creations, are the basic underlying forms of the substances creation, the elements are naturally bonded together by the complex formation of developing molecules and such.

Background Research

    1. The Auditory Brain, transformation and processing of tones and sounds occurs on two levels in the brain
      1. In the auditory cortex, hear the sound is perceived via the electrical signals that then trigger the neurons to synapsis and process information
      2. As a reflex, when a sound is received occasionally our attention is given to the subject, such as a turn of the head or perhaps a giving of attention
    2. Primary Auditory Pathway
      1. First step following a sound being perceived,
        1. Beginning at the brain stem, basic decoding of sound occurs here, intensity and and frequency is then perceived
        2. This pathway carries messages from the cochlea to a sensory area of the temporal lobe, known the auditory cortex.
        3. Then in the Thalamus, situated at the base of the thalamus, it integrates the sensory systems in the body and hence the function as an essential factor in the making of a response aka. a spoken word, or such.
        4. Finally, neurons send the information from the thalamus with the auditory cortex, by here the message is almost completely decoded, in which it is memorised and may lead to an response.
    3. Non-primary Auditory Pathways
      1. Usually directed toward focus
      2. Reticular Formation- in the brain stem, this system organizes input based upon priority
    4. Acetylcholine-cortical circuit binder that is linked to cognitive effects in communication
    5. Effects of Stimulants and ability to reason through input: Nicotine, caffeine, etc.
    6. Dopamine, levels are key to unlocking input received through text, or sound
    7. Effects of stress on communication
    8. Sensory Processing (Sound Processing):
    9. Input Speech- (Main info from here for reference)

    1. Temporal Lobe

The Composition of Language and Foreign Language

    1. Brain regions:
      1. Motor Areas (Primary Motor Cortex, Motor Association Area)
      2. Prefrontal Cortex Broca’s Area
      3. Sensory Areas and Related Association areas (Primary visual, Visual association area, Primary Auditory cortex, Auditory Asso.)
      4. NOTICE: Please see reference image “Brain reference”
    2. Audio Perception:
      2. The use of cochlea fluid, endolymph fluid (electrolytes and proteins), vibrations of the nerve endings
        1. Which in turn leads to: Nerve and sensory detection
        2. Stereocilia hair movement, when moved causes contact w/ nerve endings
    3. Information Transfer aka: Nerve Signals:
      1. Sound is funneled through the tympanic membrane (eardrum), vibrates through the three bones, frequencies are separated based on type of membrane vibration
      2. Stereocilia (Hair Like follicles in the cochlea), take these frequencies and convert them into electrical signal
        1. Thus exciting the auditory nerve:
        2. In the basilar membrane sound is detected via the influx of potassium ions,
        3. “The shear forces on the stereocilia cause ionic channels in the cell membranes to open, modifying the permeability of the membranes and allowing the entry of potassium ions into the cells. This influx of potassium ions results in depolarization and the generation of an action potential.”
      3. When the auditory nerve is activated, neurotransmitters trigger neuronal impulses toward the brain
    4. Learning process via communication: (foreign language)
      1. Dopamine levels are key, if high dopamine levels are present then it is generally more likely for a subject to be absorbed
      2. Serotonin, a regulator in mood is also key, if low the subject may be distracted and less open to input
      3. Chemical properties of each: (Wiki
        1. Dopamine: C<8>H<11>NO<2>
        2. Serotonin: C<10>H<12>N<2>O
    5. The Basics of Sound:
      1. Sound- is made by a rapid variation of air molecules above and below the current atmospheric pressure level
      2. These are pressure fluctuations that causes the eardrum to vibrate
      3. These pressure fluctuations are usually referred to as sound pressure, and the fluctuations as sound waves
    6. Vibrations cause the fluctuations, so a speaker is essential a rapid vibration making machine.


Information on movements of speech: a complex use of the larynx, jaw, and lips

History of mental development in reading, and cognitive process in language

History regarding scientific studies of the brain

Arcuate fasciculus, nerves on key speech

Frontal Lobe, key on speech

“Brain is more organized for language not speech”

Brainwaves, take noun and verbs translate them into pithy statements (Specifically Foreign Language)

The brain size changes during the process of learning foreign language

Hippocampus, cerebral cortex (Language learning, language skills), grew in size

Immersion versus explanation in language, Immersion over six months resulted better

Bilinguistic learns fair better in cognitive abilities, fair better against demental breakdown

Dopamine, and the use of the chemical in learning language

Brain’s from of chemical that gives a rewarding feeling

Dopamine levels determine how much information (as in language learning), if the levels are low then the learning process is usually poor, if high then better

Also interests in a subject gives the ability to process such an information easier

Neurons, Synapses, Action Potentials, and Neurotransmission

In CNS (Central Nervous Center), motor and cognitive skills interrelated

Amount of neurons to process varying information

Gila/Gila Cells supporting factors on Neurons

Structure of neurons; Motor Neurons, Sensory Neurons, interneurons

Neurotransmission-Communication between neurons

Action Potential, in use of axon activity and interaction with synapsis

The process behind neuronal development and learning/communication

Process of Neuroplasticity, science of brain structural changes, from input

Cognitively demanding task; increase activity and growth of the brain, such as foreign language

The Auditory Brain, transformation and processing of tones and sounds occurs on two levels in the brain

In the auditory cortex, hear the sound is perceived via the electrical signals that then trigger the neurons to synapsis and process information

As a reflex, when a sound is received occasionally our attention is given to the subject, such as a turn of the head or perhaps a giving of attention

Ears and the detection of sound, the basics

Topic of audible sounds perceived 20-20,000 Hz

Basic Anatomical Information

Topic of sound waves

More Anatomical Information

Hair Cells, Stereocilia

Normal and Damaged Hair Cell Comparison

Encyclopaedia article on the Ear

Covers basic anatomy, hearing organs, and Physiology

Specific ranges of audible sound

Pressure Calculations

Neurotransmitters: and their effect on the brain

Process of transmitting information between cells, synapses

How diseases may affect this process

The processes of sound transmission

Sound Pressure, waves, and how they travel

Specific information on what sound truly is

Basics on sounds and how they traverse

Basics on interpretation of sound

Specific information on the hair cells in the Cochlea, also known as the Stereocilia

Along With, how these cells, if killed can lead to significant hearing loss, or ringing.

Clarifies the specific sections of the Brain Stem

And, of course, how they regulate certain actions of the body

Short medical based article on the topic of neuron composition

Chemical format and specific elements of the cell

Wikipedia article on the actions of chemical synapses

Interaction between the neurons and how information is shared

Specific numerical data on the cell amount and composition

About the Author

Joshua Sones is a Junior, currently attending Billings Senior High School. He is rather fond of becoming a polyglot, in the essence of learning many new languages, and the discoveries in history and computer technology. He is on the Platinum List, Order of the Arrow Member, near Eagle Scout member, and is interested in technology, ranging from the obscure to the mystere. He plans on being a foreign exchange student to Finland, and looks forward to the experience of foreign lands, both physically and mentally.