Tag Archives: Senses

The Brain documentary series reaches Australia

I’ve started watching the TV series The Brain featuring the accomplished American neuroscientist Dr David Eagleman, who has made major contributions to synaesthesia research and many more areas of neuroscience. Face recognition and synaesthesia are some of the many topics mentioned in the first episode, which has already been broadcast on SBS.


Eagleman always working on very interesting research

This article in the October 10th 2015 issue of New Scientist about David Eagleman by Helen Thomson is well worth a look, but unfortunately behind a paywall. Dr Eagleman is known to me as a leading synaesthesia researcher whose team developed the world’s best test of synaesthesia, which anyone can do online at no cost, and get the full results. The recent article is not about synaesthesia at all, but the research theme is very similar to synaesthesia in that it is about a device created by Eagleman and his team that can use one sensory modality to sense input that is completely different to what is normally sensed through that sense. The versatile extrasensory transducer (VEST) can convert non-sensory data streams or sensory information into touch sensory input, and apparently Eagleman’s team are trying to find out if it can be used to help the deaf to hear through the sensory mode of touch, which would be a clever feat on a par with blind people who can echolocate. Some of the other ideas about using the device to sense data streams fascinate me with the wide-open potential for this technology, but the idea of using this kind of technology to monitor one’s own blood glucose level seems redundant. Surely a more efficient way to acquire this skill would be through feedback training to boost a latent natural ability to sense this biological state? I am certain that I can sense my own blood pressure levels, and probably many other states.

Dr Eagleman has a new TV series airing in the USA and a book out that is a companion to the series. How long until we will see them here in Australia? I can only guess, and wait.


Eagleman Laboratory


The Brain with David Eagleman


So does that mean everyone is really a synaesthete (but most don’t know it)?

Lawrence D. Rosenblum has written a book and also a recently-published article in Scientific American about a new model of how the brain works, with the senses working together intimately, not running in isolated ways in isolated sections of the brain.



Rosenblum’s book See What I’m Saying was reviewed by the synaesthesia researcher Richard Cytowic in New Scientist:

See What I’m Saying demonstrates that the five senses do not travel along separate channels, but interact to a degree few scientists would have believed only a decade ago. After reading Rosenblum’s captivating book, you will be surprised at how much your senses are capable of.

Cytowic wrote that this is not a book about synaesthesia. He’s right. There are important and testable differences between synaesthetes and non-synaesthetes, but it is my opinion that Rosenblum’s ideas possibly have implications for synaesthetes. I believe it is time to discard the misleading and silly notion that synaesthetes have “mixed up” or “cross-wired” senses, because every person’s senses work together. The McGurk effect is just one striking example. I believe we should instead be describing synaesthesia as a variation charcterized by hyperconnectivity in the brain, not abnormal connectivity or mistaken connectivity. We are a sizable minority in the human race, so it doesn’t make sense to write us off as freaks or abnormalities.

Extraordinary secrets of our linked-up senses
26 April 2010

Is seeing believing? A documentary worth catching on SBS2 tonight

If you have an interest in the psychology of sensory perception and you live in Western Australia it still isn’t too late to watch the repeat of the British documentary Is Seeing Believing? which is scheduled for broadcast for 7.30pm on SBS2.