Ian Cleary

What organ do we use to hear?

A simple enough question right? Well our body is not that simple. We collect information through sound waves through our ears, but what we actually ‘hear’ is determined by our brain – and our brain takes in far more than just sound. It also takes in other sensory information including vision, smell, taste and importantly it takes into account past history. All of these things creates a context.

All that is processed in the brain and it recreates a representation. That’s what we actually ‘hear’. This allows us to potentially ‘hear’ better. If we miss a few word we can use context to fill in the gaps for example.

So we don’t hear the world directly. We get a second hand approximation. And normally it is a good enough approximation. But it is easy to fool the brain into ‘mishearing’.

As you watch the video below, you will experience how much importance the brain places on context. Hear the brain creates the incorrect representation or response. This seems to be a factor for conditions like tinnitus.

Because the brain takes into account context we also also hear with our eyes. Yes you heard me write. Context! 🙂


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