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Book could be music to your ears

| Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011

For about four days now, you've been carrying a happy tune.

And you're not happy about it.

The song you've whistled, hummed, and sung could've been something you heard on-hold, on TV, or on a speaker -- you don't remember and you don't care. You fall asleep with it and wake with it. You don't know the title of it or who performed it and you don't know all the words -- which is driving you crazy.

That, and you can't get the blasted thing out of your head.

It's called an "earworm" and though it's maddening, it's actually good for your brain. Learn why and more in the new book "Healing at the Speed of Sound" by Don Campbell and Alex Doman.

So you woke up this morning grumpy, feeling like you just couldn't get going• Chances are, Campbell and Doman say, you need to change your first-thing-in-the-morning sound. If you wake to an alarm, for instance, soothing chimes or bird sounds might be gentler. If you need energy to face your day, Calypso music might be the wake-up ticket.

That's because your gray matter "mirrors what it has perceived."

Sound, tone and pitch cause different parts of your brain to interact in a "more intense" way, which affects mood, wakefulness and health: studies show that music played in pediatric ICUs enhances the growth rate of preemies. Research indicates that exercise can be improved with music, enhancing performance and challenging athletes. Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers have noticed that music and movement can boosts their patients' well-being. Even pets' moods are lifted by song.

But, of course, not all sound is good.

Exposure to loud music can weaken muscles, worsen some health issues and cause hearing loss. Annoying noises cause productivity to plummet in business, and it can drive away clients.

So what can you do to best utilize sound?

Start by making your home a haven, and use music to match your needs. Know what kind of listener you are, put yourself on a "sound diet," and ask your family to respect that. Tactfully approach neighbors for a "sound curfew" and look for support within your community's noise laws.

Oh, and those earworms• Keep them. You may need them someday...

With contagious enthusiasm, some personal anecdotes, and a wealth of study results, authors Don Campbell and Alex Doman prove that pleasant sound -- particularly music -- isn't just something in the background. That's fascinating information, with implications not only for physicians, but for parents, caregivers, business owners, athletes, and casual readers. I was also glad to see research on the disadvantages of cacophony; without those results, this book would have been incomplete.

For best results, this book requires patience (because there's plenty to absorb here), a nearby computer (to utilize interactive website links, see demonstrations, and hear recordings), and a desire to take easy steps to maximize your well-being. Whether you love or hate music, welcome noise or abhor it, if you care what goes into your ears, "Healing at the Speed of Sound" could be music to your eyes.

Additional Information:

Get the book

Additional Information:

Get the book

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