The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind

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9781608190904: The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind

The surprising truth about how the things our ears hear affect what's between them.
Every day, we are surrounded by millions of sounds - ambient ones like the rumble of the train and the hum of air conditioner, as well as more attention-grabbing sounds, such as human speech, music, and sirens. But how do we process what we hear every day? And how does it affect our brains and our minds?  This book answers such revealing questions as:

  • How do bats see in 3D with their ears and how did that lead to the development of medical ultrasound?
  • What is it about the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard that makes us cringe?
  • Why do city folks have trouble sleeping in the country, and vice versa?
  • Why can't you get that song out of your head?

Starting with the basics of auditory biology, neuroscientist and musician Seth Horowitz explains how sound affects us, and in turn, how we've learned to manipulate sound: into music, commercial jingles, car horns, and modern inventions like cochlear implants, ultrasound scans, and the mosquito ringtone. Whether you're standing in a crowded subway or a quiet meadow, you'll never hear the same way after reading this book. The Universal Sense gives new insight into what the sounds of our world have to do with the way we think, feel, and interact.

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About the Author:

Seth S. Horowitz, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist and professor at Brown University. He is the co-founder of NeuroPop, the first sound design and consulting firm to use neurosensory and psychophysical algorithms in music, sound design, and sonic branding. He is married to sound and biomimetic artist China Blue and lives in Warwick, RI.

From Booklist:

We live in a sonic world. Sounds and vibration affect our mood, memories, and mind. Neuroscientist Horowitz’s aim is to amp up understanding and respect for our auditory environment. He draws on physiology, physics, and psychology to demonstrate “how sound and hearing have shaped the evolution, development, and day-to-day function of the mind.” Sound assists in mating, playing, and acquiring food. Hearing helps us stay vigilant and monitor our surroundings. Horowitz contemplates the difficulty in defining music and how it influences the mind. He highlights the power of acoustics by invoking our usual reaction to the noise of fingernails scraping across a blackboard, the employment of echolocation by bats, and the love songs of frogs. He defuses the hype of sound-based weaponry that dates back to Joshua and his hundreds of warriors who blew on rams’ horns and shouted in unison to collapse the walls of Jericho. It must be myth or miracle, since physics alone cannot explain the magnitude of such a sonic blast. The science of sound is fascinating, and Horowitz is an author worth listening to. --Tony Miksanek

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