We were all taught at school our five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. They were our five isolated communicators that processed the outside world in different areas of our brain. However, these complex pathways that perceive the world around collaborate more than we realise.
Our senses process the information from the environment and remove the discrepancy, resulting in the agreed information from the environment. In some circumstances, one sense can influence the other, changing our perception. For example, if visual perception is dominant over sound, the signalling entwinement alters what is heard. This inherited neurological predisposition forms extra pathways between areas of the brain. It affects 4% of the British population and is called synethesia.
MRI brain scans visualise the areas of the brain that aren’t normally active become active and “light up”. These pathways can be tracked via the movement of water molecules in the brain with a newer more sophisticated technique, called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
A collision of senses is not just seen in synthesia. BBC Horizon’s “Is Seeing Believing?” addressed the phenomenon called the McGurk Effect where the visual-auditory crosstalk becomes more apparent. Even though the same word “bah” is being said the sound that you hear will depend on which image you choose to look at.
Click video clip below.
A blue Monday and loud rainbow cannot sound too unrealistic now. The predisposition of extra pathways or impairments have illustrated the complexity of our perception.