Neuroscience

Hearing and imagination shape what we see

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Science  11 Jul 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6193, pp. 176-177
DOI: 10.1126/science.345.6193.176-b

Hearing sounds helps our visual system to predict incoming information and may give us a survival advantage. Vetter et al. blindfolded people and scanned their brains while they listened to birds singing, traffic noise, or people talking. Using sophisticated algorithms, the researchers were able to identify the category of sounds just by examining the pattern of activity in the primary visual cortex, a brain area previously believed to process nothing but input from the eyes. And when the people imagined the specific sound categories in the complete absence of sight and sound, their primary visual cortices also showed activity. These results highlight the interconnectedness of the brain's sensory systems.

Curr. Biol. 10.1016/j.cub.2014.04.020 (2014).

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