I’ve always believed that, over time, the process of listening through static to hear a distant shortwave broadcast, has been good for not only increasing my listening skills in general, but has been healthy for the grey matter. Seth S. Horowitz, auditory neuroscientist at Brown University, has just substantiated this belief in his NY Times piece, The Science and Art of Listening:
[…]Hearing, in short, is easy. You and every other vertebrate that hasn’t suffered some genetic, developmental or environmental accident have been doing it for hundreds of millions of years. It’s your life line, your alarm system, your way to escape danger and pass on your genes. But listening, really listening, is hard when potential distractions are leaping into your ears every fifty-thousandth of a second — and pathways in your brain are just waiting to interrupt your focus to warn you of any potential dangers.
Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload.
And yet we dare not lose it. Because listening tunes our brain to the patterns of our environment faster than any other sense, and paying attention to the nonvisual parts of our world feeds into everything from our intellectual sharpness to our dance skills.[…]
Read the full article in the NY Times. Thanks, David, for passing this along!
There is also research that the mind itself becomes more ‘noisy’ with time, and that there is an ‘optimal’ level of noise:
Excellent posting – thank you! I have noticed a real change in the expectations of many folks when listening to SW or even amateur radio. Folks want FM quality sound all the time, or else they think something is wrong or not worthy of listening.
Since I was a little kid pulling something barely recognizable out of the noise/static/distance has fascinated me with radio, and it still does.
Thanks for passing this along!