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August 13, 2013 AT 1:00 am

Hearing can make “invisible” objects appear

If I said “cat” this might be easier to spot.

If I said “cat” this might be easier to spot.

Hearing can make “invisible” objects appear

Hearing an object’s name makes spotting it through visual noise easier.

Dan Mirman of the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute studies speech and color perception. He explained that “there are two ways of thinking about perception and cognition. One takes the view that there are progressive levels of processing information that go from the more simple senses to complicated cognition. However, the other option is to see these levels as all working together.”

This research thus allows us to question whether language literally changes what we see; that is, naming an object evidently affects visual representations in some way. “What does having language mean in this context?” Lupyan questioned. “It evidently has far more than a communicative function.”

“Humans are the only animals who have an evolved language. …”It seems these labels may allow an animal to perceive in a completely different way—in categories. Language in some way abstracts us away from particulars, from detail.”


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1 Comment

  1. Stephen Paulger

    I wonder if it works the other way too. You say a word while someone is looking at a noisy picture (or clouds), I wonder if they’ll still see it.

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