Seth Horowitz – Where the Wild Things Hear. Auditory Worlds Beyond the Human Experience

The success of humans as a species has affected almost every ecological niche on Earth, and few are as affected as profoundly as the planet’s acoustic ecologies. We complain about how noisy our cities and homes are, yet almost all forms of human activity make our world louder. Anthropogenic sound has invaded and impacted almost every species we share space with, from birds who have shifted their songs to be heard over traffic rumbles to whales who shift their migration route to avoid shipping noise. And yet, loud as it is, the human auditory world is but a small niche in the acoustic domain. There were billions of years of sounds before the advent of the Anthropocene and there will be billions more after we are gone. Thousands of listening creatures have evolved, developed and lived in an acoustic world far removed from that of human speech, music and noise, calling and listening far above or deep below the human auditory range. By understanding the fantastic variety of the vibratory realm and how living things use non-human sonic channels as well as how human activities may affect them, we gain a greater understanding of our role in the billion year songs of our planet.

Seth S. Horowitz, Ph.D. is a neuroscientist and the author of The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind (Bloomsbury 2012). As a former faculty member in the Department of Neuroscience at Brown University, his research in auditory and vestibular neuroscience, sleep, chronobiology, and human performance has been funded by NIH, NSF and NASA. His current work focuses on how sound perception affects emotion, cognition, pain perception and motion sickness, and how it can be applied to enhance virtual environments. He is the Chief Science Officer of NeuroPop, Inc., Sleep Genius, Inc., and the Semisphere Group, as well as President and Head of R&D of The Engine Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to exploring the intersection between science and the arts. He is married to artist China Blue and lives in Warwick, RI, USA.

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