Prof. Dr. med. Horst Koeditz
The Ear as a
Lecture given at the
“Medical Week Baden-Baden”
Prof. Dr. med. Horst Koeditz
was, until his retirement in 1997, head of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Magdeburg and of the
University Children’s Hospital.
From 1990 – 1993, he was Rector
University of Magdeburg.
The very gifted Kaiser Friedrich II of the House of Hohenstaufen, who was also very interested in the sciences, wondered in which language children would begin to express themselves, if they had never ever heard a word spoken.
Would it be Latin, Greek or the oldest language, Hebrew, or the mother tongue? His lively interest prompted him to carry out an unusual experiment.
He gave attendants and wet-nurses a number of orphaned new-born children to bring up. They were ordered to give them the breast and guarantee the best care, but were strictly forbidden to speak a word, either to them or in their presence.
But no answer to the Kaiser’s burning question was to be found, for all of the children died at a very early age. ‘They could not live without the praise, the gestures, the friendly facial expressions and caresses of their attendants and wet-nurses; this is why the songs sung by women whilst rocking the cradle are called ‘Ammenzauber’ – lullabies which lull or enchant the child’. That was the verdict of the chronicler – Salimbene of Parma – in 1240, a remarkable formulation for that day and age.
“Via the ear and
its neural connections
to the brain,
music has an immediate
on our entire organism.”
In Herodotus’s second book, Psammetic relates a similar story with a less tragic outcome. Even if these reports are perhaps exaggerated, they are still early indicators as to how necessary stimulation of the senses is for the normal development of a child.
Do we not have the reverse problem today?
Tones and sounds – natural phenomena, acoustic happenings – threats to civilization or balsam for body and soul? Is music not a special case of man’s self-made noise – does it thus belong to environmental noise? Today more than ever since the banishment of silence, music stands in the conflict of an ecstatic drugged state, balanced harmony and acoustic pollution. Without exception, people of all ages come into contact with it, but how do they handle it? Compensation of worlds of feeling and bodily reactions, mental state and physical load-bearing capacity.
How sensitive are our hearing and our stimulus conduction system? How much more constant bombardment with sound can they endure? What cerebral functions are activated, which networks can be registered, and how can they be evaluated? How ill can noise occurrences make you?
However, this year’s Medical Week Baden-Baden will not be concerned with this, but with the question of how it is possible to achieve the reverse effect, namely to make it possible to produce a healing effect on people via the senses.