The importance of sound

We are all familiar with that hypothetical question you ask your mates as a teenager, usually on a long car ride away somewhere “would you rather lose your sight or your hearing?” A very large percentage of the time the answer, not surprisingly, is “oh, definitely hearing, imagine not being able to see your girlfriend or watch your favourite movie etc”

Well, yes I whole-heartedly agree that not being able to see those things would be terrible and, of course, you wouldn’t wish that ill fate on anyone.  However I believe that sometimes sound isn’t given the credit that it is due.  We don’t think about how important it is and how much sound influences and enhances our lives.

Naturally, the counter argument is “You wouldn’t be able to hear your favourite music or hear your partner tell you that they love you” and, of course, there is no right answer to this hypothetical question.

But, consider this scenario: Imagine approaching a busy street corner and prepare to cross, now close your eyes and pause.

In this moment, your brain has already mapped out a fairly accurate approximation of where all the cars, trucks and in fact, anything that makes a sound, are located.

Now, instead of pausing, let’s take a sample of 3-4 seconds and focus in on only one vehicle.  Your brain is able to calculate the direction and rough speed of the vehicle.  You may also even know if it is slowing down, speeding up or if it is travelling at a constant speed.

There are many different factors at play here but the key fundamental is the fact that to tell all of this information, you need only to be able to hear.  Your eyes don’t even need to be open.

In my opinion, your hearing is actually more important to day to day living than your eyes and there are, of course, examples of when this wouldn’t be the case. e.g. Driving a car.

There are many more examples of when your ears are actually the first activation point for your brain realising that ‘something is up’ but the point here is to not discount your ears so easily.

I will leave you with one final thought or rather a test.  If you have 2 minutes to play along then do as follows.

  1. Grab yourself a piece of paper and a pen.
  2. Turn everything that makes sound off (TV’s, Radios etc)
  3. Pop outside and sit down
  4. Close your eyes and write down everything you can hear over the course of two minutes.


I bet you will have a list of at least 50-60 different things.  More than you thought you would write down when you first started? Probably!

This list of independent sounds is what your brain is constantly processing and makes your life a lot easier to live..without you even knowing.

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