Bio · Science · Technology

Seeing In The Pitch-Dark Is All In Your Head

A few years ago, cognitive scientist Duje Tadin and his colleague Randolph Blake decided to test blindfolds for an experiment they were cooking up.

They wanted an industrial-strength blindfold to make sure volunteers for their work wouldn’t be able to see a thing. “We basically got the best blindfold you can get.” Tadin tells Shots. “It’s made of black plastic, and it should block all light.”
Tadin and Blake pulled one on just to be sure and waved their hands in front of their eyes. They didn’t expect to be able to see, yet both of them felt as if they could make out the shadowy outlines of their arms moving.
Being scientists, they wondered what was behind the spooky phenomenon. “We knew there wasn’t any visual input there,” Tadin says. They figured their minds were instinctively filling in images where there weren’t any.

After conducting several experiments involving computerized eye trackers, they proved themselves right. Between 50 and 75 percent of the participants in their studies showed an eerie ability to “see” their own bodies moving in total darkness. The research, put together by scientists at the University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University, is published in the journal Psychological Science.

How were they so sure? “The only way you can produce smooth eye movements is if you’re following a target,” Tadin tells Shots. When our eyes aren’t tracking something very specific, they tend to jerk around randomly. “If you just try to make your eyes move smoothly, you can’t do it.” The researchers used this knowledge to test whether people could really distinguish their hand movements in the dark.

Text and Image via Neuromorphogenesis

Design · Performativity · Vital-Edible-Health

Tableware as Sensorial Stimuli

Cutlery design focuses on getting food in bite-sized morsels from the plate to the mouth, but it could do so much more. The project aims to reveal just how much more, stretching the limits of what tableware can do. Focusing on ways of making eating a much richer experience, a series of dozens of different designs has been created, inspired by the phenomenon of synesthesia. This is a neurological condition where stimulus to one sense can affect one or more of the other senses.

An everyday event, ‘taste’ is created as a combination of more than five senses. Tasty formulas with the 5 elements – temperature, color, texture, volume/weight, and form – are applied to design proposal. Via exploring ‘synesthesia’ if we can stretch the borders of what tableware can do, the eating experience can be enriched in multi-cross-wiring ways. The tableware we use for eating should not just be a tool for placing food in our mouth, but it should become extensions of our body, challenging our senses even in the moment when the food is still on its way to being consumed. Each of designs have been created to stimulate or train different senses – allowing more than just our taste buds to be engaged in the act and enjoyment of eating as sensorial stimuli, therefore it would lead the way of mindful eating which guides to rediscovering a healthy and joyful relationship with food.

Text and Images via J I N H Y U N . J E O N

Art/Aesthetics · Book-Text-Read-Zines · Education · Science

Frans Evers’s The Academy of the Senses: Synesthetics in Science, Art, and Education.

Frans Evers’s The Academy of the Senses is a book wanting to be three books at once. A study of the scientific approaches to synesthesia, related to the psycho-physical research conducted by Evers during his studies at the university; an alternative art history of the twentieth century based on the double paradigm of Castel’s clavecin oculaire and Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk; and a full account of the genesis of the Interfaculty Image & Sound. To encompass this entire range of subject, Evers coined a new term, “synesthetics,” to denote the experience, creative force, and study of synesthesia.

Throughout his career, Evers has profiled himself as an educational reformer. Together with electronic music pioneer Dick Raaijmakers, he started a series of projects and lectures exploring the interaction of music and fine arts, which culminated in the establishment of the first multimedia department in the Netherlands, the Interfaculty Image & Sound at the University of the Arts in The Hague, which Evers headed from 1989 until 2007. This book maps out the theoretical and artistic foundations of this educational reform project, as well as its synesthetic output: large multi-media performances such as a reworking of Anton Schoenberg’s Die Glückliche Hand, Mondrian’s Promenoir, and Scheuer im Haag.

The Academy of the Senses is a “source book,” a work of inspiration, rather than a rigid account of historical facts. It provides anyone with an interest in the wondrous realm of multimedia arts and synesthesia as a creative force, whether student or professional, an introduction into the foundations and extensions of seeing sound and hearing colors throughout the centuries.

Text and Image via Vangervenoei

Human-ities · Science · Theory

Synesthesia May Explain Healers Claims of Seeing People’s ‘Aura’

Researchers in Spain have found that at least some of the individuals claiming to see the so-called aura of people actually have the neuropsychological phenomenon known as “synesthesia” (specifically, “emotional synesthesia”). This might be a scientific explanation of their alleged ability.

In synesthetes, the brain regions responsible for the processing of each type of sensory stimuli are intensely interconnected. Synesthetes can see or taste a sound, feel a taste, or associate people or letters with a particular color.

The study was conducted by the University of Granada Department of Experimental Psychology Óscar Iborra, Luis Pastor and Emilio Gómez Milán, and has been published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. This is the first time that a scientific explanation has been provided for the esoteric phenomenon of the aura, a supposed energy field of luminous radiation surrounding a person as a halo, which is imperceptible to most human beings.

Excerpt of an article via Science Daily. Continue HERE

Image above by Carlo Van de Roer

Human-ities · Performativity

Synesthesia: How Infants Possess Intermingled Senses

Photo by roberttisserand.com

What if every visit to the museum was the equivalent of spending time at the philharmonic? For painter Vassily Kandinsky, that was the experience of painting: colors triggered sounds. Now a study from the University of California, San Diego, suggests that we are all born synesthetes like Kandinsky, with senses so joined that stimulating one reliably stimulates another.

The work, published in the August issue of Psychological Science, has become the first experimental confir­mation of the infant-synesthesia hy­pothesis—which has existed, unproved, for almost 20 years.

Researchers presented infants and adults with images of repeating shapes (either circles or triangles) on a split-color background: one side was red or blue, and the other side was yellow or green. If the infants had shape-color asso­ciations, the scientists hypoth­esized, the shapes would affect their color preferences. For in­stance, some infants might look significantly longer at a green back­ground with circles than at the same green background with triangles. Absent synesthesia, no such dif­ference would be visible.

The study confirmed this hunch. Infants who were two and three months old showed significant shape-color associations. By eight months the preference was no longer pronounced, and in adults it was gone altogether.

The more important implications of this work may lie beyond synesthesia, says lead author Katie Wagner, a psychologist at U.C.S.D. The finding provides insight into how babies learn about the world more generally. “In­fants may perceive the world in a way that’s fundamentally different from adults,” Wagner says. As we age, she adds, we narrow our focus, perhaps gaining an edge in cognitive speed as the sensory symphony quiets down.

Written by Maria Konnikova. Via Scientific American