Sound has a deeply rooted relation with our physiology, the functioning of the human brain and body. The inner ear is the first sensory organ to develop during the embryonic phase in the womb, influencing the early development of the brain and nervous system. Hearing controls balance, posture and motoric functions of the body. The skin, muscles, organs and bone structure all play a fundamental role in the detection of vibrations.
Sound relates to the entire body and as such it has measurable effects on the para-sympathetic nervous system that brings the body into balance, or homeostase. In this state, the body can protect and recover optimally from stress and diseases. The influence of sound of homeostase can be positive or negative, and the specific qualities of sound to balance physical and mental states is subject of further investigation.
The Works conducts scientific research on the potentially beneficial effects of sound on the human body and consciousness. To this end, we have designed and built a new instrument for experiential research – the Sphere. A spherical loudspeaker for a person to sit within, it offers an optimized environment for high-fidelity spatial projection of sound and measuring human response to sound at various levels – such as the brain activity and vital functions.
The listener is seated on a floating chair in the centre of the Sphere, in silence and complete darkness. By deprivation of the visual sense, we become more sensitive to sound through hearing and mechanoreception – the sense of vibration through our body – and its effects on the proprioceptive sense – relating to position and balance of the body and movement of one’s body parts – and the interoceptive sense – sensations in one’s inner organs.
In the Sphere, soundwaves are projected on the user within the audible frequency range (16 Hz-20 kHz) as well as extending above and below – sound that cannot be heard but can be felt. By means of process involving stimuli and feedback response, the Sphere observes how the soundfield influences the focus and state of the listener and tunes more precisely to the listener to induce a state of balance, a process called entrainment.
The phenomena of entrainment emerges once the biorhythms of the human body – such as breath, heartbeat and brain activity – and the frequencies present within the soundwaves synchronize, so they become phase-coherent. This process induces resonance, a magnification of audible energy in space and felt around an inside the body, and triggering response from specific parts of the body.
The Works Research Institute investigates the effect of spatial sound on human wellbeing. By gathering deeper and more precise understanding of the effects of sound on our physiological and psychological states, we intend to develop a new paradigm for applications using sound as medicine.
To this end, The Works Research Institute collaborates with an interdisciplinary team of researchers and scientists in the field of Cognitive Neuro-Science, Neuro-Biology, Neural Computation, Psycho and Physio-Acoustics, Physics, Mathematics, Electro-Acoustics, Audio Computation and Audio Signal Processing.
Our Flagship product, the Sphere, has been subject of three years of research and development to establish the optimal acoustical conditions to experience and observe enhanced effects of sound on human beings. The Sphere is powered with hi-end audio technology developed by Bloomline Acoustics and 4DSOUND.