Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Our Senses Combine To Give Us A Better View Of The World

Date:
November 14, 2008
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Although each of our five senses seem to be their own entity, recent studies have indicated that our senses blend together, to help us better perceive our environment. New findings reveal that if a stimulation of the leg is not initially detected, this sensation may be perceived by the addition of a visual or auditory signal. Additionally, a tactile stimulus combined with a specific level of auditory stimulation results in optimal detection of that sensation.

From a young age we are taught about the five senses and how they help us to explore our world. Although each sense seems to be its own entity, recent studies have indicated that there is actually a lot of overlap and blending of the senses occurring in the brain to help us better perceive our environment.

Researchers J.E. Lugo, R. Doti and Jocelyn Flaubert from the University of Montreal, along with Walter Wittich from McGill University, wanted to know if a feeling from an electrical stimulation of a body part (such as the leg) which normally would not be perceived, would be felt if it was simultaneously accompanied by a visual or auditory signal. The researchers studied this by applying slight electrical stimulation to the right calf of volunteers -- the stimulation was so slight that it was not detected by the participants. The researchers then paired that electrical stimulation simultaneously with a visual signal, a distinct noise or a progressively louder white noise signal. The volunteers reported when they felt anything in their leg and the electrical response of the calf muscle activation was measured.

The results reveal that if an electrical stimulation of the leg is not initially detected, this sensation may be perceived by the addition of a visual or auditory signal with a corresponding electrical activation increase. The results described in this study indicate that the brain not only constantly processes information received from the senses, but also acts on that information to change what is happening in the peripheral system, and thus changing what we actually detect.

The results of the last experiment are characteristic of stochastic resonance. This is an interesting phenomenon where as noise is added to a system, the system's performance improves until, at a certain point, the performance begins to deteriorate. This is exactly what the researchers found in this study—as they increased the signal, participants reported more feeling in their leg, but this eventually decreased, even as the signal continued to get louder. They found this resonance signature even if the stimulus they used in this experiment was not noise but a pulse. These results show that a tactile stimulus combined with a specific level of auditory stimulation results in optimal detection of that sensation. However, too much signal energy will limit the response. It also shows that these dynamics represent a fundamental principle of multisensory integration.

This study gives us more insight into multisensory integration, which the authors argue, will result in increased knowledge of how the brain normally interacts with the peripheral system. In addition, learning more about multisensory integration will lead to a better understanding of disorders such as autism, in which altered sensory processing often occurs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J.E. Lugo et al. Multisensory Integration: Central Processing Modifies Peripheral Systems. Psychological Science, October 2008 [link]

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "How Our Senses Combine To Give Us A Better View Of The World." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081112194925.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2008, November 14). How Our Senses Combine To Give Us A Better View Of The World. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081112194925.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "How Our Senses Combine To Give Us A Better View Of The World." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081112194925.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins