I ntroduction to T he S enses

M ore T han M eets the E ye

W e all take in the world through our senses—smell, taste, touch, hearing, and vision. The senses often work together with each other, and sometimes one sense can trick another. For example, in grade school you may have tried this experiment where you put on a blindfold, and someone holds an onion under your nose while you bite into an apple.When you can’t see the apple and can only smell the onion, your senses may fool you so you think you’re eating an onion. In a similar way, sight and sound are intertwined. Consider the McGurk effect. This perceptual phenomenon demonstrates how the visual information from seeing a person speak changes the way one hears sound. A clip on YouTube illustrates the McGurk effect: an individual repeatedly says “bah, bah, bah” over and over again. The sound matches his lip formations. Then the pre- senter tries an experiment—he keeps the audio track the same but shows the man moving his lips as if he were saying “fah, fah, fah” repeatedly instead of “bah, bah, bah.”When you watch this video, your mind plays a trick on you.You hear “fah, fah, fah.” It’s not being said at all, but because it looks that way, you hear it that way.The second you close your eyes, however, the “bah, bah, bahs” return.

We often take our senses for granted, but they are re- markable tools. This volume shows how senses can some- times seem to be cross-wired in certain individuals to pro- duce sensations that are outside the realm of the normal. Numbers may have distinctive colors. Sounds can have specific tastes. Senses can also be heightened, approaching

See the McGurk effect for yourself

freaky phenomena


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