Posted by on Monday, Nov 5, 2012 - 5:51 PM

Isn't it amazing how the human body & mind work together ...and, so often, without our conscious control?

The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind by Seth Horowitz

How do we incorporate all the sounds in our lives? From everyday ambient to insistently piercing, the sounds we hear we process and then give meaning. Our sense of hearing is affected by both the physics and the psychology. Why do fingernails on a chalkboard elicit shivers?  Why do we fall asleep on a train or in a car? Buzzing bees? Universally frightening!  Horowitz, an assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at Brown starts with neuroscience and  then adds the psychology. He touches on hearing and music. (Why can't you get that jingle out of your head?) The writing is staid, but the facts are fascinating.

The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want by Garret Keizer

Noise!  From the primeval forest to a wind farm in Maine. Harper's Magazine Contributing Editor Keizer surveys the history of human-produced noise and its political and cultural implications. Noise is often an expression of power and is inflicted on the weak and the powerless.  And beautiful sounds to one person may be unbearable noise to another. This book will heighten your awareness of the sounds around you and may make you more aware of your own quantity and volume of "noise."

Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing Hiccupping and Beyond by Robert R. Provine

Sometimes, I see the word "yawn"..and there I am... mouth agape. Why is yawning so contagious? Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at University of Maryland Provine  investigates the instinctive, lowly human acts which may have evolutionary origins. Did you know that coughing can be medical, musical or social? This look at basic behaviors suggests simple self experiments of interest to all ages.  Can you tickle yourself? Do you know why not?

The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body by Frances Ashcroft

The history of how scientists discovered the role of electricity in the human body sets the scene for the latest theories and discoveries  of how the currents in our bodies spark our movements, our  thoughts , and the beating of our hearts.  Experiments with re-animated corpses may have led to Frankenstein stories. Nerves connect across our synapses with electrical spark. Nerve poisons or natural defects can interfere to cause paralysis or heart arrhythmias, epilepsy or migraines.  Fascinating facts about something we all take for granted. Ashcroft is a Physiology Professor at the University of Oxford.

Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David Randall

Randall, a Senior Reporter for the New York Times, decided to learn more about sleep after he crashed into a wall while sleepwalking. This comprehensive account of everything from the best mattresses to the efficacy of placebos as sleeping pills will answer all your questions and then some. Sleep deprivation? Snoring? Circadian rhythms? Children who will not go to bed?  Do women sleep differently than men? Is it murder if you kill someone while sleepwalking?  Lots of information about the chunk of life we spend not awake!


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