Seeing Sound and Hearing Light
Synesthesia, the syndrome in which people’s senses become confused, may not be so off the wall. Research at the University of British Columbia “flips the traditional view of how we perceive the world on its head.” Experiments show that our brains perceive the world by synthesizing multiple inputs. The latest evidence of this is that we can “hear” through our skin.
BBC News and Live Science reported on experiments by Bryan Gick at the U of BC that show blindfolded subjects perceive words differently when receiving puffs of air on their skin. He believes that this is very different from traditional interpretations of sense organs as independent channels of perception. According to Gick, humans are “whole-body perceiving machines.” The research, he believes, could lead to more effective hearing aids and prostheses for the blind and deaf.
Our bodies are marvelously designed whole entities. Evolution cannot “tinker” with one thing without affecting other things. Applying a proverb by John Muir to anatomy, the more we try to pick out one function, the more we find it tied to everything else in the body.