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Re: Innate responses to sound
Dear Ross and group,
I like your concept Ross for a topic. I would be interested to find out
whether such sounds can be pre-wired into our higher levels of hearing.
The article which is listed below is a good read ... I guess a lot of
people are suggesting that our wiring and therefor our processing of the
environment around us develops gradually as we are growing and also
exposed to soundscapes.
Don't forget that the beauty of science is that nothing is set in stone
... if you can prove your theories, then they may well topple current
point of view. At the same time, it is a good idea to remain elastic in
your opinion, until you are sure of what is what... the more reading
you do, the more you can steady or sway your own opinion.
If you are interested in physical responses due to the auditory
environment, it would be a nice idea to read about how the higher
auditory centres wire themselves to the movement centres ... an obvious
example would be why we a programmed to dance or move to music !
Whilst dance styles are most surely nurture, the impetus to move is most
likely nature ... however there are a lot of examples and ideas you can
brainstorm yourself apart from dancing ... some innate and some not.
On Thu, May 22, 2008 at 10:04:00AM -0500, Brandon Abbs wrote:
> Hello Ross,
> Extending Dr. Schnupp's comments even further:
> Experience-independent spontaneous activity in the auditory system can also
> shape its organization, including the organization of tonotopic maps.
> There was a nice study of how this activity arises in rats last November in
> Tritsch, N.X. et al. (2007). The origin of spontaneous activity in the
> developing auditory system. Nature, 450, 50-55.
> When hearing begins in rats this activity decreases and experience takes
> over in determining the organization. The authors refer to this
> experience-independent activity as 'endogenous' rather than innate given
> that the mechanisms for regulating this activity are still unknown and may
> therefore be found to depend upon some non-deterministic factors. If this
> type of (experience-independent) activity is not described as innate, it
> will be difficult to make an argument that anything after the onset of
> hearing or further upstream in processing is innate.
> Brandon Abbs
> Graduate Student
> University of Iowa
> Department of Psychology
> Iowa City, IA 52242
> Office: E310 SSH
> Lab Phone: (319) 335-2472
> On May 22, 2008, at 4:10 AM, Jan Schnupp wrote:
>> Hi Ross,
>> I would agree with Brian that you may find it very hard to find much,
>> particularly on humans, that you can root properly in hard science. There
>> are of course dozens and dozens of papers from numerous labs which have
>> looked at the consequences of manipulations or early auditory or
>> multisensory experience in various laboratory animals, (Merzenich,
>> Kilgard, Grothe, Knudsen, Withington, King, to name but a few - apologies
>> to the many of our colleagues who I should also have mentioned here...)
>> and they mostly find that, surprise surprise, early experience can
>> influence auditory development substantially, changing many things from
>> psychophysical performance to cortical map organization and right down to
>> the "neural cabling" in the brainstem and midbrain. My worry with your
>> proposed thesis would be that you may have a terribly hard time just to
>> pin down what you mean by "innate". All hearing is innate because if you
>> are born without ears you don't have any, but all hearing is also
>> environmental because how the innate potential will unfold critically
>> depends on countless environmental variables, many of which you cannot
>> easily control or observe.
>> When I started as a grad student, Andy King advised me to try to stay
>> clear of nature vs nurture type debates. It was the first of many good
>> pieces of advice I got from him. Everything is ultimately nature AND
>> nurture, and trying to tease these two apart often ends up as a slippery
>> kind of exercise which is not really that insightful.
>> I hope I don't sound too discouraging. I think asking why people, or other
>> animals, react to particular sounds the way they do could be very
>> worthwhile, but if you say a priori that anything that is not "essentially
>> and demonstrably innate" does not interest you then you might be painting
>> yourself into a corner.
>> Best wishes,
>> 2008/5/22 Ross Rochford <digiology@xxxxxxxxx>:
>> I am considering for my thesis an exploration of innate responses to
>> sounds, that is, unlearned and presumably having evolved to serve some
>> function. The idea of the evolutionary lag where we have evolved to adapt
>> to an environment that existed thousands of years ago interests me, I
>> wonder what the implications of this are for how we respond to sound and
>> how music affects our mood.
>> I am looking for papers (or books) on responses to sound that are likely
>> to be innate in humans. Also papers that discuss the evolutionary origins
>> of our responses to sound and music and how our past environment (and
>> tasks therein, e.g. hunting) have shaped them. I am hoping for the kinds
>> of explanations that have been proposed for arachnophobia, that a fear of
>> spiders had survival advantage as we may have evolved among poisonous
>> While researching, I found a suggestion that our response to nails on a
>> blackboard is because of the similarity (of its spectrum) to the warning
>> call of macaque monkeys. Although I don't believe this is an adequate
>> explanation (the warning calls don't produce the same response as nails on
>> a blackboard in humans), it is similar to what I am looking for.
>> Any suggestions on where to start are greatly appreciated.
>> Dr Jan Schnupp
>> University of Oxford
>> Dept. of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics
>> Sherrington Building - Parks Road
>> Oxford OX1 3PT - UK
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