Leading neuroscientist and acclaimed author Mark Changizi's third book, Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man, which explores new research on the evolution of speech and music, hits store shelves this August.
Language and music are central to what it means to be human. But where did they come from? In Harnessed, cognitive scientist Changizi argues that language and music are in us not because we evolved for them, but, rather, because they evolved for us. Over history, language and music came to have the structure that our non-language and amusical brains could brilliantly absorb.
In particular, language and music came to have the structures of the sounds in nature, just the sorts of sounds our brain had evolved to process. It is this "nature-harnessing" that explains who we are today.
For speech, Changizi provides a barrage of evidence that speech across human languages mimics the fundamental sounds of physical events in the world. By mimicking the sounds that solid objects make when they hit, slide and ring, speech harnesses our ancient event-recognition powers that were never intended for language.
And, for music, Changizi lays out his case that music mimics another equally important category of sound in the world: the sounds of human movement. Just as we possess brains specially designed to recognize facial expressions, our brains evolved to recognize what people are doing in our midst from the sounds they make. Music harnesses that ancient brain capability, turning a human action recognition system into a music appreciation machine.
Written in Changizi's personable, anecdotal style with helpful chapter summaries, Harnessed appeals to both the science enthusiast and the scientifically challenged reader, unveiling how, by mimicking natural events, cultural evolution molded languages and music to fit human brains.
About Mark Changizi:
Mark Changizi is an evolutionary neurobiologist aiming to grasp the ultimate foundations underlying why we think, feel and see as we do. His research focuses on "why" questions, and he has made important discoveries such as why we see in color, why we see illusions, why we have forward-facing eyes, why letters are shaped as they are, why the brain is organized as it is, why animals have as many limbs and fingers as they do, why the dictionary is organized as it is, and why fingers get pruney when wet.
Changizi has more than 30 scientific journal articles, some of which have been covered in news venues such as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and Wired. He has written three books, "THE BRAIN FROM 25,000 FEET" (Kluwer 2003), "THE VISION REVOLUTION" (BenBella, 2009), and "HARNESSED"(BenBella, 2011). Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man
Author(s): Mark Changizi
Publication Month: August 2011
Retail: $16.95 US/19.50 CAN
Publisher: BenBella Books
Cover: Trade paper
Page Count: 216
Trim Size: 5.5 x 8.25
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