Fascinating from a bunch of angles. In particular, I loved her riff on the McGurk Effect.
The McGurk Effect was mentioned yesterday. I didn’t know the name for that, but I knew it existed.
That’s a really important point. Humans evolved to get information, primarily from vision. Neurologically, we have much, much more processing power and neural resources devoted to processing what we see compared to what we hear. The auditory system is very crude, so when we see something, it is going to dominate our decision-making compared to what we hear. But, that said, the hearing, because it’s a simpler mechanism, is faster and more automatic. Students who stare at the screen and the waveform are literally suppressing and denying themselves the capacity to listen. They don’t need to see the waveform. There’s no useful information there, beyond a certain point. When you’re listening to a performance, you need to see the levels, and you need to see the transport controls. But, other than the meters and the transport controls, there’s no information there that you need. All the information you need is coming out of the speakers. That’s what you should be attending to. It contains the message.
Turn the screen off.
Yeah! And block competing sources of information that are not useful in the moment. We’ve got these sensory organs that are constantly taking in information, and then we’ve got internal sources of information, telling you you’re hungry, tired, cold, or thirsty. The whole brain is processing sound. So, as you’re listening to sound, you’re taking in what you see, but you’re also taking in what you smell and what you taste. You’re taking in whether you’re happy, or sad, or cold, or hot, or tired, or hungry, or in a good mood, or in a bad mood. You’re taking in anxieties. Is there something happening later that night, or the next day? The whole system is processing what you hear, and can influence what you hear. Associative memory – associations between a song and memories of it – can influence our liking or disliking of that song. We all like songs that make us happy, even when we don’t know why it makes us happy. We probably heard it when we were just deliriously happy at some point, whether at a wedding, or a baseball game, or whatever. It’s incredibly powerful, in part because auditory processing is so incredibly crude.