Can the eyes play tricks on the ears? With the dawn of new studies about how the brain processes sight and sound, efforts have been launched to intentionally trick the ears so as to help the bind to see.
It has been determined that sight and sound are not independently processed in the brain. The information received through hearing and the information received through sight are processed against each other to make connection in the brain between the two.
If you have talked on the phone with someone prior to seeing that person, you may have gotten a weird feeling when you saw the person for the first time. This happens because the human brain stores information and processes new information through previous experiences.
When you hear another person’s voice, the voice is processed through previous encounters and a composite visual image is produced by its closest voice to face match. So, the person may not look the way that you expected them to look. Your expectation about how they should look was based on your brain making that connection between sight and sound.
This phenomenon is true of all of our senses. There is a processor in the human brains perhaps much more complex and advanced then those designed in the Silicon Valley.
As scientists understand these connections they become more equipped to solve many problems that ail humankind. Scientific America (www.sciam.com) says that understanding this phenomenon “may be useful to scientists trying to combat conditions characterized by audition deficits, such as dyslexia.” Conceivably, the processor in a person’s brain can be repaired by using other portions of the brain to process the same signals but to do so without defect.
This may be similar to segmenting a hard dive on a computer so that a damaged portion will not be used to overwrite important information. The brain of a person with a condition like dyslexia may simply be trying to read good information that has been preserved on a defective portion of the brain. This of course is a simplified way of trying to understand these very complex systems.
Humans have known this and even applied practices to this knowledge for some time. Mnemonics regards the connection between sight and sound providing a person with a better chance at memory. If we can visualize something and or attach a sound to it we will remember it much better.
Try it. Look at the following numbers. Try to remember them just by sight: 9487544.
Close your eyes and say the number.
If you did so successfully there may be a reason beyond your sight reading. It is very likely that you recited the number in rhythm. If you used rhythm, you combined sound with sight and were able to remember the number.
Numbers are not necessarily related to any sounds but your brain automatically created a connection. You saw the numbers. The information was sent to the processing part of your brain where a rhythm was added. Previously stored experiences with numbers told your brain this is the kind of help you need to perceive that combination of numbers in a useful and memorable way.
Using computer terms to explain it again; you gave your brain the information. It looked for the best possible software to run it. Though it only needed visual software to see the image, your brain chose multimedia software because of its ability to improve upon the information that you collected with your eyes.
Your ears will sometimes trick your eyes when a sound and related visual image are separated. One example can be found in a movie where the swear words were changed. Your eyes only believe that the mouth it sees matches the words it hears.
When you try to locate an airplane in the sky you may notice that it is not where you expected it to be. The sound travels slower then the visual image so you will tend to look behind where the plane really is.
Aware of the benefits of making this connection between sight and sound Spectrogram (www.user.drew.edu) says for those learning how to sight read music there is an advantage to listening to the music first while viewing the scores. This trains the eyes to the sound and prepares the musician with a quicker recognition.
Richard Provost (www.egtaguitarforum.org) also says the combination of sight and sound will improve ones music learning memory. He says that students learning to sight read will improve their memory if they employ both visual and auditory memorization, simultaneously. He sights the use of saying the name of a note while viewing it on a scale.
There are already amazing advancements that make the connection between sound and sight. The bionic eye is a great example.
In the bionic eye light is processed through a video camera sending electrical signals through the ear canal to tickle the back of the blind persons tongue. That person is then able to translate that information within their brain in a way that allows them to perceive an image. You can find news about this advancement at www.theage.com.au or www.cbsnews.com
Daniel Sieberg from CBS may be somewhat credited for the spread of interest in this information with his reports on the revolutionary technology.
>GPS Helps the Blind
Sound is used to help the blind in other cases also. In Science Daily (www.sciencedaily.com) Developers have designed GPS powered devices that sound alerts to warn a blind person of an obstacle. This is another way the ears may compensate for the blinds lack of vision.
Science, technology and medicine are making breakthroughs daily regarding how this connection between how we hear and how we see will improve solutions to many visual and auditory ailments.
www.innerbody.com For a basic understanding about how the ear works
www.ABCnews.go.com Mike May transplanted eye
www.sciencedaily.com Science Daily
www.theage.com.au and www.cbsnews.com bionic eye
www.egtaguitarforum.org and www.user.drew.edu Music memory
www.sciam.com Scientific America