Sound and vision work hand in hand, UCLA psychologists report | UCLA
A new study shows how auditory and visual information in the brain can work together to trick us into seeing things that are not there. The international film magazine, since Published by the BFI. A new study demonstrates that our senses of sight and sound interact even more closely than many scientists believed to help us perceive the.
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The research suggests that there is not one sole mechanism in the brain that governs how much our senses work together to process information. Among the implications of the study: It might not be as easy as many people had assumed to categorize the way in which we perceive and learn.
For example, your brain may combine sights and sounds a lot in one task — watching TV, for example — but only a little in another task — such as playing the piano. In one part of the study, 59 participants, mostly UCLA undergraduates, were seated in front of a computer monitor with speakers on either side and asked to count the number of flashes of light on the screen and beeps played on the speakers.
Sometimes they only saw flashes, sometimes they only heard beeps and sometimes they both saw flashes and heard beeps — in which case the numbers could vary, up to four of each.
The researchers presented combinations of beeps and flashes in a one-hour period. In the second part of the study, subjects were asked to sit facing a black screen, behind which were five speakers. A projector mounted overhead was used to flash bursts of light onto the screen, at the same spots where the speakers were located. The researchers played brief bursts of sound and triggered flashes of light, in various combinations, and asked participants to identify where they originated.
Then, each participant experienced trials in all three conditions. As Shams expected, the participants were best able to identify the phase in which the dots moved horizontally when the sound moved in the same direction as the dots but remained stationary during the random phase. The researchers found that the sound that moved in the opposite direction neither enhanced nor worsened the participants' visual perception.
Surprisingly, the sound that traveled leftward both when the dots moved leftward and when the dots moved randomly — that is, sound that provided no useful information for choosing between the two phases — also helped people correctly choose the phase with the horizontal motion.
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Because the sound was identical in both phases, if the participants closed their eyes they, would have a chance of successfully performing the task based on sound alone; with their eyes open, however, the interaction between sound and vision led to a significant improvement in detection of visual motion.
Scientists have believed that each of the senses produces an estimate relevant for the task, and then these votes get combined subconsciously according to rules that take into account which sense is more reliable.
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However, our findings show that the senses of hearing and vision can also interact at a more basic level, before they each even produce an estimate.
The senses affect one another other in many ways, said Robyn Kim, a former UCLA psychology postdoctoral scholar in Shams' laboratory and lead author of the study. There are connections between the auditory and visual portions of the brain at the cognitive level.
When the information from one sense is ambiguous, another sense can step in and clarify or ratify the perception, Shams and Kim said.