To: quiet-list!
From: Ron pellegrino<>
Subject: Re: Radios & Driving
Date: May 17, 1999

<=== Quiet-List message from "Ray Hattingh" ===
<The following innocuous looking question may once again indicate how noise
<affects our concentration abilities...

<More Things to Ponder:
<Why is it that when you´re driving and looking for an address, you turn
<down the volume on the radio?

<Ray Hattingh

Common sense says the human perceptual system is a massively parallel biocomputer that monitors and controls the senses as well as all the muscles, bones, organs, glands, circulatory systems, etc. required to keep moving a body through a highly complex and ever changing life stream. When operating efficiently this biocomputer naturally attenuates less necessary input and output streams to increase the power and tighten the focus on the function or sensory mode that should have priority; it results in a form of focused rather than distributed attention. Sometimes we´re conscious of these operations and sometimes we´re not. With time and experience we learn to assist by doing little things like turning "down the volume on the radio" or squelching any other distraction that might be weakening our concentration.

I´ve been playing with a version of this notion for several decades by including in my public presentations a "shell" piece called "Music for the Mind's Eye." It´s actually a visual music field test in which I ask the audience to close their eyes, listen to the music, and observe evoked internal images. Most people simply listen better and hear more (a simple illustration of the principle at work in the paragraph above - shut down one sensory mode (vision) to enhance another (hearing)). Those with active imaginations sometimes see what actually inspired the music especially when I bias their attention by telling them what moved me to do the piece; one example is a piece called "Loving Leviathans" inspired by observing mating whales.

Ron Pellegrino

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