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csandrinic's picture

mute screaming

This week’s discussion about corollary discharge was very intriguing to me. From what I understand, corollary discharge signaling is the phenomenon of the brain sending a signal to various muscles to create an output and a copy of the signal getting sent to the auditory system, desensitizing it so it doesn’t get overloaded. I read a very interesting article in the New York Times called “Block that Chirp: Volume Control in Crickets”. ( In crickets, it has been determined that at the precise moment a cricket moves its forewing muscles to create a chirp, its auditory neurons become inhibited. However, no corollary signal is created when the cricket moves the same muscles- albeit in a different pattern- while flying. It can therefore be assumed that at the same time that the central nervous system sends a signal to the motor nerves, it also produces a corollary discharge that inhibits the response of the auditory neurons. This is of course the response in someone or something that has proper functioning of all of their body parts. But what happens when you have corollary discharge in a person who does not have this proper functioning? If you are mute, and you pretend to scream, will there be a signal that gets sent to your auditory neurons? Will they desensitize themselves even though you are not capable of making any noise? Is this like phantom limb, where an expectation signal is being sent out to the limb, even though the input signal is not present? Do mutes experience discomfort in the part of their body that expects to receive a signal but doesn’t in the same way that an armless person will experience discomfort in the area where their limb should be?


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