Brain can LISTEN to shapes


Interestingly, we hear shapes pretty well.  It seems that Canadian Scientists think that human brains can decode the shape of an object by processing special sound inputs.

“The fact that a property of sound such as frequency can be used to convey shape information suggests that as long as the spatial relation is coded in a systematic way, shape can be preserved and made accessible – even if the medium via which space is coded is not spatial in its physical nature,” said Jung-Kyong Kim, student in Dr. Robert Zatorre’s lab at The Neuro.

Research was done by scientists of The Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University.

Well, anyone who has talked on phone with people would know that it can be a dangerous proposition!  For example, I remember when I had talked to my wife the first time on phone without having seen her picture.  I had formed an image.  She was nowhere near that!  She was far more petite and good looking than what her voice “sounded” like!  But then a man’s brain behaves a little strangely and works in multiple directions on listening to a woman’s voice specially when he is trying to scout for a partner!

We seem to share this ability somewhat with some fishes like Dolphins which use echolocation to move around in their habitat.  Humans can be trained to develop this abillity.

Following training, the individuals were able to match auditory input to tactually discerned shapes and showed generalization to new auditory-tactile or sound-touch pairings.

This, of course, holds great promise for help to visually impaired people.  Published in Experimental Brain Research, this research   shows that the complete perception of objects and happenings occur not at the sensory level but at a more abstract level.

What do you think?  Have you experienced it?

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