Thursday, August 4, 2016

Multimodal Crosstalk

Make it stop.

Got an article here in Wired where we learn about how we taste, and about how we sense everything, really. The brain doesn’t see sensory information as sense-specific, it processes everything together. In the article, psychologist Charles Spence relates it to signal processing – the brain has to process all the signals to figure out what’s good and what’s not. And what we get back is not raw sensory input; instead all the signals interfere with each other, distorting and reshaping each other. Changing the color of white wine to red makes people “taste” red wine. Changing the lights in a room makes you “hear” differently. Senses even distort themselves. White noise makes other noises seem further away; it distorts the aural space of the listener (see Beckerman below).

I bring up all of this because, why, our sense of smell is the most obvious candidate for proving the multi-modal sensory processing of our brains. Smells can be Sharp, Sour, or Green. In fact, smell is one sense that we do not experience as its own. All of the words we use to describe smells come from other senses; and it can be argued that we only experience smell by proxy of the other senses. Perhaps it is too primitive of a phenomenon to translate to the cognizant, self-reflective human – it is the first sense, after all, and made its appearance on the Tree of Life with the Vertebrates, and hence with brains (the two go together).

Lost in Translation

Brendan Cole, Wired, July 2016

Professor Charles Spence, at Oxford, studies applied cognitive psychology, consumer psychology, sensory marketing, and multisensory perception. And that would make him a man of interest here at Limbic Signal. He also deals a lot with the future of food.

The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy. Joel Beckerman. 2014.

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