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Even Unconsciously, Sound Helps Us See

"Imagine you are playing ping-pong with a friend. Your friend makes a serve. Information about where and when the ball hit the table is provided by both vision and hearing. Scientists have believed that each of the senses produces an estimate relevant for the task (in this example, about the location or time of the ball's impact) and then these votes get combined subconsciously according to rules that take into account which sense is more reliable. And this is how the senses interact in how we perceive the world. 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," says Ladan Shams, a UCLA professor of psychology, and the senior author of a new study appearing in the December issue of Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.  "If we think of the perceptual system as a democracy where each sense is like a person casting a vote and all votes are counted (albeit with different weights) to reach a decision, what our study shows is that the voters talk to one another and influence one another even before each casts a vote."... More>


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