Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World (Hardcover)
How sound leaves a fundamental imprint on who we are.
Making sense of sound is one of the hardest jobs we ask our brains to do. In Of Sound Mind, Nina Kraus examines the partnership of sound and brain, showing for the first time that the processing of sound drives many of the brain's core functions. Our hearing is always on--we can't close our ears the way we close our eyes--and yet we can ignore sounds that are unimportant. We don't just hear; we engage with sounds. Kraus explores what goes on in our brains when we hear a word--or a chord, or a meow, or a screech.
Our hearing brain, Kraus tells us, is vast. It interacts with what we know, with our emotions, with how we think, with our movements, and with our other senses. Auditory neurons make calculations at one-thousandth of a second; hearing is the speediest of our senses. Sound plays an unrecognized role in both healthy and hurting brains. Kraus explores the power of music for healing as well as the destructive power of noise on the nervous system. She traces what happens in the brain when we speak another language, have a language disorder, experience rhythm, listen to birdsong, or suffer a concussion. Kraus shows how our engagement with sound leaves a fundamental imprint on who we are. The sounds of our lives shape our brains, for better and for worse, and help us build the sonic world we live in.
About the Author
Nina Kraus, a neuroscientist who has done pathbreaking research on sound and hearing for more than thirty years, is Hugh Knowles Professor of Neurobiology, Communication Sciences, and Otolaryngology at Northwestern University.
2022 PROSE Award Winner, Biomedicine
Selected as NPR's Book of the DayOne of Behavioral Scientist's Notable Books of 2021
“Of Sound Mind offers a deeply scientific yet often poetic look at the hearing brain and provides an in-depth narrative about why such explorations are important. The expertly rendered illustrations by Katie Shelly that accompany the text make complex processes easy to understand; their cartoonlike quality make science seem familiar, friendly, easy to access....Ms. Kraus’s greatest triumph is in making the invisible visible, in vividly rendering those vibrations of air through the medium of her words and reminding us to pause and listen."
—the Wall Street Journal
"Of Sound Mind" by Nina Kraus explains how our brain constructs a meaningful sonic world and shows for the first time that the processing of sound can drive many of the brain's core functions."
"Drawing on hard science and exuberant appreciation, "Of Sound Mind" examines why we love music, how we make words, and what we mean when we say, "It's good to hear your voice." It also, significantly, advocates for creating our own healthy sonic environments, to "allow sound to change us for the better."
"This is a must-read for anyone who is a musician or who has a fascination with how our own bodies work—or both. Put it on your to-read list; you won't be disappointed."