A mother notices her toddler is not learning to talk the way
his brothers did … is something wrong? Her search for answers is a journey into
the mysteries of the human brain.
Lydia Denworth’s third son, Alex, was nearly two when he was
identified with significant hearing loss that was likely to get worse. Her
sweet boy with the big brown eyes had probably never heard her lullabies.
Denworth knew the importance of enrichment to the developing
brain but had never contemplated the opposite: deprivation. How would a child’s
brain grow outside the world of sound most of us take for granted? How would he
communicate? Would he learn to read and write—weren’t phonics a key to
literacy? How long did they have until Alex’s brain changed irrevocably? In her
drive to understand the choices—starting with the angry debate between
supporters of American Sign Language and the controversial but revolutionary
cochlear implant—Denworth soon found that every decision carried weighty
scientific, social and even political implications. As she grappled with the
complex collisions between the emerging field of brain plasticity, the
possibilities of modern technology, and the changing culture of the deaf
community, she gained a new appreciation of the exquisite relationship between
sound, language, and learning.
An acclaimed science journalist as well as a mother, Denworth
interviewed the world’s experts on language development, inventors of
ground-breaking technology, deaf leaders, and neuroscientists at the frontiers
of research. She presents insights from studies of everything from at-risk kids
in Head Start to noisy cocktail party conversation, from songbirds to signal
processing, and from the invention of the telephone to sign language.
Weaving together tales from the centuries-long quest to
develop the cochlear implant and simultaneous leaps in neuroscientific
knowledge against a tumultuous backdrop of identity politics, I Can Hear You Whisper shows how sound sculpts our children’s brains and the life changing consequences of that delicate process. Download and start listening now!