Friday, December 30, 2022

Neuroscience, Sound and Reading Your Mind

Earlier this month on the CNN I listened to Sanjay Gupta's interview with Nina Kraus in his "Chasing Life" podcast segment "The Power of Sound".  As a consequence, I ordered her book "Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaninful Sonic World".  It's arrived.  Now I just have to find the time to read it.

Sound, whether music, speech, a thunderclap or gunfire, takes place, not in the ears, but in the brain.  Yet, neouroscience has produced relatively little research on the subject, especially compared to the study of brainwaves related to light and vision.  Professor Kraus points out that hearing, not sight, is our early-warning system.  In addition, our relationship with sound is interactive since we produce it and solicit it as well as interpret it, whereas sight is mainly a one-way street.  Moreover, our "sound" mind interacts with all the other facets of our brain.

During the interview, Prof. Kraus played recordings of the brainwaves from several subjects who all listened to one, particular, popular song.  Although each recording was slightly different, you could recognize that, same melody in all of them.

I didn't find it surprising that the subjects' brainwaves were similar -- but wait a minute -- I, myself, could recognize the song!  That comes pretty close to being able to read someone's mind, doesn't it?  Granted, this was just rhythm and pitch, not speech, and the brainwaves were created via active listening, not re-creating the song from memory.  But still....!

I can't wait to see the results from additional studies that come out of her lab.

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