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The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind
Horowitz, Seth S., Ph.D.
Bloomsbury Press US / Softcover / 2013-08-01 / 1608198839
Science / On Music and Sound
price: $18.00 (may be subject to change)
256 pages
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Every day, we are beset by millions of sounds-ambient ones like the rumble of the train and the hum of air conditioner, as well as more pronounced sounds, such as human speech, music, and sirens. How do we know which sounds should startle us, which should engage us, and which should turn us off?

Why do we often fall asleep on train rides or in the car? Is there really a musical note that can make you sick to your stomach? Why do city folks have trouble sleeping in the country, and vice versa?In this fascinating exploration, research psychologist and sound engineer Seth Horowitz shows how our sense of hearing manipulates the way we think, consume, sleep, and feel.

Starting with the basics of the biology, Horowitz explains why we hear what we hear, 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. Combining the best parts of This is Your Brain on Music and The Emotional Brain, this book gives new insight into what really makes us tick.


“Reading The Universal Sense, I found myself pricking my ears, suddenly aware like never before of the acoustic waves washing over me every moment of the day.” – Carl Zimmer

“For anyone who has pondered the impact of heavy metal on the mind, sonic canons on the enemy, or 'brown noise' on the bowels, here is a feast: the first authoritative, scientific look at humans' relationship to sound. Seth Horowitz is as engaging as he is knowledgeable, and he brings the fruits of his own research and results to general audiences for the first time. So listen up.” – Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed

“The Universal Sense is a wonderful book. Beautiful prose. Clear exposition. Fascinating topic. Your ideas about sound and silence will forever be changed.” – Joseph LeDoux, author of The Emotional Brain

“[The Universal Sense], 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.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review)

About the Author:

Seth S. Horowitz, Ph.D. is an assistant research professor in the departments of neuroscience and psychology at Brown University. He is the co-founder of NeuroPop, the first sound design and consulting firm to use neurosensory... More Info

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On Music and Sound