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The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  82 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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. But how do we process what we hear every day? This book answers such revealing questions as:

• Why do we often fall asleep on train rides or in the car, and what does it have to

Published September 1st 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published August 21st 2012)
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When I saw this book reviewed in Publishers Weekly I immediately ordered it for the library. I was really excited about a book that might possibly talk about some of the issues and situations I've experienced growing up with a deaf parent. Unfortunately, this book doesn't ever touch on what it means for a human to be deaf and how the loss of hearing can impact a person's life. Horowitz, who is a professor at Brown, does talk about how certain animals experience deafness (particularly frogs and b ...more
It was way too technical (Yes, even for an audio engineer) as the technical data covered extreme extent of biological, neurological and animal related data as well.

To me it was more like a textbook, opposed to what I expected after reading the description.

I recommend it to someone who wants a very deep study on the subject, or someone interested in deep research on this topic.

The author is really very intelligent, has deep knowledge and experience on the subjects, he really amazed me by the leve
Tina LeCount Myers
Mr. Horowitz presents an interesting and often engaging explanation of the sense of hearing. He is clearly excited about his field of research and endeavors to convey that excitement to his readers. The book and much of the material covered is quite technical. The illustrations provided for the experiments that were presented were not illuminating. The work would have been better served by inclusion of basic anatomical diagrams to help the reader get a sense of what was being discussed. Not havi ...more
P.J. O'Brien
I really liked this book, especially as I got towards the end, though there were gems of insights and new ideas all the way through. But the closing chapter's idea of brain songs, the music of mental activity, and the earlier exploration of what the definition of music could be that everyone could agree on, really grabbed me.

For those who don't like the more technical stuff, I'd suggest reading it from back to front or just picking chapters out at random that sound intriguing. I did read it stra
Cassandra Kay Silva
This book will hit non fiction lovers well, with a lot of interesting thoughts on hearing and sound communication in various species and ourselves. The author is very in love with his subject matter and this comes across on every page. I think he has the ability to connect and excite the audience in regards to sound as his experience with various sound experimentation and creation are wide. This was wonderful, and chock full of information and an emotional twinge that I found very engrossing.
This book was a blend of psychoacoustics (almost textbook in explanation)and descriptions of types of sound(sound as a weapon, sound in space, music). It almost felt as if it was written by two different authors as the writing style changed to be more conversational about half way through. Interesting.
Dennis Ross
This is a really good book for anyone interested in neuroscience in general or hearing in particular. The author really understands sound, as in music, noise, and as an emotion. I learned a lot and enjoyed the book. I am passing it on to a neurologist friend.

Pretty technical, don't think I would have enjoyed it at all if I didn't have the background in sound/hearing education that I have. Some really interesting stuff sprinkled throughout though.
Edward Ferrari
I would say: reassuringly technical and surprisingly readable; the first non-fiction that's made me laugh out loud for a while!
Way too technical for the casual reader.
I found this book very interesting. Parts of it did get pretty technical, but overall I still found most of it comprehensible and fascinating. A few things I found interesting:

*frogs become temporarily deaf as they transition from tadpole to adult their brains are rewired to go from hearing underwater to hearing on land.
*frogs can regrow hair cells that allow then to hear while humans can't ...which leads to important implications if we can figure out how to help humans regrow their ha
Mary Whisner
Interesting book about hearing, the sense that is most widely shared by animals. Discussions of hearing in different animals (notably bats) and people. A light tone, with some personal anecdotes and footnote jokes. But sometimes the author pitched the science a little too high for me: I could have used a little more basic explanations of frequency, decibels, and so on. Likewise, when discussing the neurology of hearing, the author seemed to enjoy rattling off the names of brain structures withou ...more
May 24, 2014 Cyndie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Airam Siakānuaj
Recommended to Cyndie by: Goodreads
Shelves: non-fiction
Did you know that there are sounds that can make you puke? Is a sonic weapon possible? What wound it sound like to be on Mars? This book is filled with the astounding answers to crazy questions I didn't know to ask. Really enjoyed this examination of a sense we often take for granted.
Interesting bits scattered throughout the book, but overall it is entirely too technical.
David Altemeier
Some good stuff in here, though admittedly it's probably not for everyone.
If the fact that tadpoles are effectively deaf for 48 hours and their brain is dramatically remapped while they transition to frogs is something you think is interesting, then this is for you.

AND you don't mind wading through perhaps overly verbose terminology like "turning stochastic noise into quantal percepts" or "femtosecond changes in thermal energy of vibrating atoms".
Anders Nissen
Apart from a couple of too dense chapters on frogs and bats (and their brains and hearing, of course) this is a thoroughly enjoyable book,
The author is able to pull together knowledge and science from many fields and is funny to boot :-)
If you're at all interested in sound, music and/or neurology, go read!
This is the book to read, if you want to know more about the perception of sound. The author can get kind of dry and it starts to read like a research paper in a journal, but hang in there, he always comes back to humor and cool stuff like giant amplifiers and bats.
I read many neural psychology books. The Universal Sense is more comparative anatomy, which I am enjoying immensely. One caveat, though, is that he defines "hearing" so broadly that it could encompass all of the senses.
An interesting little book on the science of how sounds affect perception and on how hearing affects cognizance. Some of the stuff was so technical it went over my head, but the few facts I did gleam I enjoyed immensely.
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Seth S. Horowitz, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist and former professor at Brown University whose research into hearing, balance, sleep and multisensory integration has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Deafness Foundation and NASA, and published in prestigious scientific journals. He is the co-founder of NeuroPop, the first sound design and consulting firm to use neurosensory and psych ...more
More about Seth S. Horowitz...
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