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Silence on the Brain

In this episode, we discuss a fascinating book written by Erline Kagge, Silence: In the Age of Noise, which explores the importance of silence in our noisy lives.


Link to the book:


What effect does noise have on the brain?


Music generally induces an arousal physiological effect that is related to its tempo (speed and rhythm). While slow/meditative music can induce relaxation, silence is even more relaxing: Bernardi et al., 2006: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16199412/


Brain activity does not only occur in response to sound, but instead signals changes between sound and silence: Scholl et al. (Wehr) 2010: https://www.cell.com/neuron/fulltext/S0896-6273(10)00046-2?_returnURL=https%3A%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0896627310000462%3Fshowall%3Dtrue


New neurons form most (neurogenesis) in response to silence, not noise: Kirste et al., 2013: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24292324/


How does imagination contribute to our sense of sound?


We have all experienced musci "continuing to play" in our heads after it is switched off. It has been shown that brain activity corresponds to this, where certain regions continue to be active during gaps in familiar music, probably indicative of auditory imagery:

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