Tag Archives: hearing

Music and speech: Why study music, part IV

Our lives in sound

Our lives are filled with sound.  On average, Americans listen to music for more than 32 hours a week (Nielsen 2017 study).  We spend hours in conversation with co-workers, friends and families.  We hear the everyday sounds of traffic, appliances in our homes, television, athletic events, pets, and a great deal more.  We never think about what our brains do with all of that – sometimes competing – auditory information. 

But according to Dr. Nina Kraus,  Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Lab (Brainvolts) at Northwestern University, making sense of sound is one of the most computationally complex tasks we ask our brains to do.  Not only is there a staggering amount of information to process (something on the order of  9 million bits of data per second1), we have to process information in microseconds in order to respond if necessary.  Continue reading

Neuroplasticity and making music

Most of us enter the world with the ability to hear sounds, and we don’t remember the process of learning to differentiate one sound from another or learning that certain sounds or sequences of sounds communicate thoughts, ideas, emotions. We learn to hear and respond to language without being aware that we are doing so. But if we learn a second language at a later time, we are well aware of the struggle to match sounds with meanings and context.  But what if you had to relearn how to decipher all sounds, whether it’s the doorbell or the sounds of your native language? Continue reading