The Fastest Sense

Hearing, according to Seth Horowitz, author of the new book, The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind. Molly Webster summarizes it. She notes that individuals "can recognize a sound in 0.05 seconds":

Why this need for auditory speed? It's our evolutionarily-shaped emergency response system. It let our ancestors hear a twig snap in the woods at night, when all was supposed to be quiet and they couldn't see. Yet, for most of us, we're wired to tune out non-essential sound, so the world doesn't feel like a sensory overload.

And noise directly affects human behavior:

Did you know that when you are in a bar, all the noise — the clash of glasses, yell of a bartender, and couple fighting in the corner; the jokes of friends, slam of the door, and music jamming from the jukebox — activates our body's flight or fight system? In response to that, the body wants to do something, anything, to manage the adrenaline that's pumping through its veins. In this case, that means spend money. Eat more. Get another round.