Crossmodal processing of vision and olfaction

Crossmodel perceptual illusions and effects are long-established, but they usually involve the relationship between vision and audition (like in the McGurk effect).

I’ve seen more of these involving other modalities lately, though. Last year’s Best Illusion of the Year winner was a vision/proprioception illusion:

And a recent paper in J Neuroscience uses olfaction to affect binocular rivalry.

In their main experiment, Zhou and colleagues showed people rival pictures of a rose and a banana at the same time. While doing this, they gave their volunteers the smell of a rose, and people became more likely to see the image of the rose.

When they gave them the smell of the banana, they were more likely to see the banana.

From NeuroDojo.


A (bit of a) mirror neuron smackdown

I’ve been thinking about mirror neurons, lately, since a talk by a woman whose work presumes their existence and importance. Mirror neurons are the Higgs Boson of neuroscience, a phenomenon that is given greater significance by people outside the field than by people inside.

Via @scicurious, this article at Psych Today reminds us to rein in some of the hype:

A non-player tennis fan who’s never held a racket doesn’t sit baffled as Roger Federer swings his way to another victory. They understand fully what his aims are, even though they can’t simulate his actions with their own racket-swinging motor cells. Similarly, we understand flying, slithering, coiling and any number of other creaturely movements, even if we don’t have the necessary motor cells to simulate them.

Article at Psychology Today

“they concealed themselves under beds in students’ rooms”

The consistently-fascinating Mind Hacks has a story today about a really pretty sketchy study from 1938, in which researchers were trying to measure some aspects of student conversation without inducing any reactivity.

In order not to introduce artifacts into the conversations, the investigators took special precautions to keep the subjects ignorant of the fact that their remarks were being recorded. To this end they concealed themselves under beds in students’ rooms where tea parties were being held, eavesdropped in dormitory smoking-rooms and dormitory wash-rooms, and listened to telephone conversations.

The rest of his write-up is here.