senses

03/21/2014 - 10:08

In a world perfumed by freshly popped popcorn and exhaust fumes, where sea breezes can mingle with the scents of sweet flowers or wet paint, humans are capable of discriminating at least one trillion different odors. Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists determined that our sense of smell is prepared to recognize this vast olfactory palette after testing individuals' ability to recognize differences between complex odors mixed in the laboratory.

 

03/12/2014 - 08:39

Asymmetric hearing is a difference between the two ears’ ability to detect and process sound. New studies indicate that people with asymmetric hearing experience greater communication difficulties than previously assumed.

 

03/06/2014 - 12:11

It is often said that music is a universal language. However, a new report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on March 6 finds that music doesn't speak to everyone. There are people who are perfectly able to experience pleasure in other ways who simply don't get music in the way the rest of us do.

 

03/03/2014 - 07:31

Odors have a way of connecting us with moments buried deep in our past.  Maybe it is a whiff of your grandmother’s perfume that transports you back decades.  With that single breath, you are suddenly in her living room, listening as the adults banter about politics. The experiences that we accumulate throughout life build expectations that are associated with different scents. These expectations are known to influence how the brain uses and stores sensory information.  But researchers have long wondered how the process works in reverse: how do our memories shape the way sensory information is collected?

 

11/06/2013 - 15:30

While eating lunch you notice an insect buzzing around your plate. Its color and motion could both influence how you respond. If the insect was yellow and black you might decide it was a bee and move away. Conversely, you might simply be annoyed at the buzzing motion and shoo the insect away. You perceive both color and motion, and decide based on the circumstances. Our brains make such contextual decisions in a heartbeat. The mystery is how.

 

08/20/2013 - 10:01

A new publication in the top-ranked journal Neuron sheds new light onto the unknown processes on how the brain integrates the inputs from the different senses in the complex circuits formed by molecularly distinct types of nerve cells. The work was led by new Umeå University associate professor Paolo Medini.