The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind

Two days ago a fascinating book came out by my friend Seth Horowitz. The book is The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind.  Seth is a musician with a day job as a neuroscientist at an Ivy League University. He has a seemingly endless imagination and childlike curiosity for all things vibrational.   These attributes coupled with an uncanny ability to explain complex information with ease, and a wicked sense of humor, equip him a skilled writer who crafts an entertaining read!

About the book— 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.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough, but so do others including Publishers Weekly. Here’s what they have to say…

Brown University neuroscientist Horowitz has pulled off an unusual feat. His science book, about the way hearing shapes the “evolution, development, and day-to-day function of the mind,” can be genuinely poetic. It is also laced with humor. Horowitz says he attempted less a text than a venue for imparting “wonder.” He succeeds, unearthing one little-known gem after another.

I should mention that Seth serves on the Scientific Advisory Board at Advanced Brain Technologies. He is working with us on a number of interesting projects with his partner at Neuropop, musician, composer, and technologist Lance Massey. Exciting things ahead!

Connect with Seth— Twitter, Facebook. Listen to a recording of a recent teleseminar he did with me for my monthly Sound Brain Fitness Series The Auditory Brain.

Watch for upcoming guest posts from Seth here at The Brain Understanding Itself.   Read  The Universal Sense.

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