I like this article, but it is more about consciousness than about physics. It simply is true that consciousness is a synthetic brain creation. It is the vehicle by which we navigate reality. Our brains' top-down cortical organization is constructed as a ‘play’ composed of characters, feeling relationships between them, plots, set designs, and language. We can create trees falling in the forest in dreams, all from our image-ination (the high end symbolic codes which make images in the theater of the brain). Obviously a dream of a tree falling in the forest is a synthetic creation. And I agree that the waking perception of a tree falling in the forest is also a synthetic creation by the brain.
You are correct that reality and perception are correlative. In fact, we can take it a step further—they are simply one loop. But both exist. In other words there is an objective reality which happens and there is the synthetic processing in the brain. It doesn’t matter whether we call it sound or not. Different organisms have very different sensational receptors and brain creations. Butterflies can ‘see’ colors and light waves that are invisible to us. Something is there, even if we can’t see it. Likewise, owls with their incredible hearing can be extremely far away, even out of the woods and they can hear the objective fact of the tree falling. (Studies of Owl brains have revealed that the medulla (the area in the brain associated with hearing) is much more complex than in other birds. A Barn Owl's medulla is estimated to have at least 95,000 neurons—three times as many as a Crow. They have specialized brain cells that allow them to orient and locate sound in space. Their faces are shaped like a direct TV antenna that concentrates and magnifies sound waves and sends them up to their incredible ears. Owl consciousness is far more auditory than our significantly visual consciousness.)
We can see the light of a star that has exploded and disappeared millions of years ago. Should we say that because we see it, it exists? (When it in fact doesn’t.) This is because the processing of our senses did not and cannot adapt to astronomical time, but to biological time.
Robert A Berezin, MD is the author of Psychotherapy of Character, the Play of Consciousness in the Theater of the Brain