Learning to Listen: Neurological Evidence

Neurological evidence indicates we not only learn to listen, but actually tune our inner ear response based on neural feedback from the brain. We literally are able to actively tune our own hearing.  

When we listen for a flute for example, this is more than a conscious decision to focus on the flute. This creates neural impulses that actively tune ear cells to better hear the flute.  

This whole video is fascinating, but I want to get you hooked right away so check this out:  

“Selectively changing what we’re listening to in response to the content. Literally reaching out to listen for things.

Here’s another good one. Everyone can hear subtle details about five times as good as predicted by modeling. Some of us however can hear 50 times as good. The difference? Years spent learning to listen closely! https://youtu.be/SuSGN8yVrcU?t=1956

Learning to play music really does help improve your listening.  

This video is chock full of neurphysiological evidence that by studying, learning and practice you can develop the listening skills to hear things you literally could not hear before. Our hearing evolved millennia before we invented music. We are only just now beginning to scratch at the potential evolution has bestowed on us.

"I am a neuroscientist"
Thankfully, you're not Mayim Bialik?

gerryah930,  When I see/hear that line, I immediately think
No vote for Jeopardy host also.

"Not too long ago I saw an article in a scientific journal (misplaced as I am wont to do lately) which spoke entirely about reducing/eliminating tinnitus by training the brain to not process the errant signal it is receiving."

barts-there are many studies with this goal, but unfortunately all still far the goal. I'm patiently waiting.

I must be one who can hear the details at many more than 5 times as predicted by modeling. I routinely listen to individual instruments throughout entire songs and it's been my experience that the most enjoyable songs are those that are made up of instrumental parts that could basically stand alone as their own songs and a vocal part that sounds good acapella. So if that bass line is moving up and down the scale instead of being stuck on one note for many bars, if those drums are using cymbal crashes and riffs at appropriate times, if the rhythm guitar is also moving around on the scale, and if that lead guitar is somewhat mimicking the vocal melody and is played as something more than just a filler when the vocals are silent, these songs tend to be more enjoyable to me. When a bass line is just playing a rhythm on a single note for several bars or the drums are just a pounding beat (as is true in much of newer music), then these songs tend to be of less interest to me. I play music trivia and when one of my teammates says that a song that is being played is great and then I point out how uninteresting the bass line is, I've ruined quite a few songs for people. I don't try to ruin the song for them intentionally, but I do try to get them to hear the individual instruments and then they get it.

You got the chops buddy. Simple, you have great hearing AND seem to preserve that wonderful gift.. Take care of "them ear bones", bud.. :-)

We have a lot in common in the way we listen to music. I love picking out and following lines of different instruments and singers and use that skill to analyze my playback gear. 

The more I can hear into a piece and pick something to follow, successfully, is my way of judging the ability to separate notes and themes. If that is successful, then lots of other parameters can be more easily met and judged. So the easier it is to judge begets ease of listening which begets satisfaction.

All the best,
OP, thank you so much for this post. Adding it to my library and will learn from this. FYI, I've been having a back and forth with Ethan Winer and he keeps *insisting* that if his list of measurements show no difference between cables, then anything perceived is either part of a scam or placebo. Everyone who claims to hear a difference, he says, is a dupe or a shill. Everyone. I keep telling him that because the brain/perceptual systems are so complex, that he should not be so sure that he has the final word on what/how to measure for -- that he has to consider the complicated listener-perceiver side of the equation. He's a hedgehog; he won't budge. Ethan aside, this area of research is fascinating. Thank you for sharing this. If you ever find more, please share or DM me.

Will do. Thanks.