(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of scientists has shown that listening to sounds that involve interaction with an object (knocking on a door or hitting a ball on the floor) activates not only the auditory cortex, but also the areas of the brain responsible for tactile perception.
This probably helps us predict future sensations and process sensory information more efficiently.
Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UK), the University of Aix-Marseille (France) and the University of Maastricht (Netherlands) have found a connection between the perception of sounds and the parts of the brain that process tactile signals.
It turned out that parts of the cerebral cortex that respond to touch are also activated when we hear certain sounds that are associated with interactions with an object.
During the experiment, the participants were asked to listen to the sounds of interaction with various objects, such as hitting the ball on the floor, knocking on the door, rustling paper, the sound of typing on the keyboard.
At this time, the authors obtained images of the brains of the subjects using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and assessed the activity of various areas of the cortex.
The scientists then applied machine learning techniques to see if the primary somatosensory cortex, which processes signals from sensory receptors throughout the body, could respond to sounds.
The authors also analyzed the response to test sounds that were not associated with touch, such as those used by doctors in hearing tests.
It turned out that parts of the brain, which, as previously thought, only respond to touch, are also activated when we hear sounds that suggest physical contact with an object.
Thus, the brain predicts what we may experience next, regardless of what data from the receptors is currently coming to it. It is likely that these expectations help us process sensory information more efficiently.
Understanding this mechanism of the brain will provide new information about various mental disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and autism. In addition, the discovery could lead to new developments in computing and artificial intelligence inspired by the structure of the human brain.
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