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02/23/2004: "swimming in sound"

Interesting thoughts on the nature of sound and its biological effects from the wonderfully surreal world of Woebot (who gets email from Vashti Bunyan and goes swimming with Jah Wobble!) Wanted to chip in briefly to the discussion (which I hope keeps growing): in terms of tinnitus, and omnipresent sounds, these sounds are often actually generated by the brain itself. There are a lot of ideas about how chronic tinnitus is connected to increased activity in the auditory cortex, and a lot of cool research on how transcranial magnetic stimulation can actually inhibit this interference.

Matt notes that Jah Wobble would often fall asleep listening to shortwave radio oscillations. Many tinnitus sufferers find solace in listening to the radio tuned between stations while they sleep. The theory is that radio static actually distracts your brain from generating its own noise.

The brain makes its own electronic noise that can be amplified, a sort of crackling sound of neurons firing left and right. It's this ever-present staticky sound that's actually kind of beautiful in places, a symphony of sorts. So if you get bored by Fennesz, maybe it's because he's already living in your brain. Kinda.

One of the things that really fascinated me back when I studied neuroscience was auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia -- where exactly do those voices come from? Is there a link between that and the background noise of tinnitus? More on all of this later.


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Matt Woebot said @ 02/24/2004 06:01 AM EST

Hi Geeta
I actually suffer from fairly severe tinnitus. i look at it as the distillationn of all the (mostly terrible) music i've ever been exposed to. it is getting worryingly loud at the mo. have heard that you can get white noise generating implants that are slowly reduced in volume. brain morphs tinnitus with w noise and reduces correspondingly...

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