Hearing is something that unfortunately always seems to go with age.
There is one animal however that doesn’t suffer these effects and its remarkable ability could hold the key to helping us prevent age-related hearing loss.
Barn owls are able to maintain their incredible sense of hearing even into old age.
Scientists at the University of Oldenburg, Gemrany, found that barn owls were able to actually regenerate cells and repair any damage to the inner ear.
Publishing their results in the journal Royal Society Publishings B, the team tested the hearing of seven captive barn owls, all varying in age.
Using a series of sounds covering the owl’s entire hearing range the team found that there was almost no difference in ability between young owls and the oldest that was 23-years-old.
The paper suggests that all birds somehow have a remarkable ability to avoid age-related hearing through inner ear regeneration.
If we can better understand how birds and in particular owls are able to do this we could eventually find a way to prevent it from happening in humans.
Sadly for our species, while we can heal wounds we can’t repair age-related damage to the inner ear.
According to the UK charity Action On Hearing Loss, the main cause of age-related hearing loss is damage to the cochlea known as presbycusis.
Presbycusis occurs when there is wear and tear to the tiny sensory cells within the cochlea known as hair cells.