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Science & Technology

Some of us are able to 'hear' flashes of light

By T.K. Randall
January 21, 2017 · Comment icon 5 comments

Have you ever heard faint sounds when looking at flashes of light ? Image Credit: sxc.hu
Scientists have identified a form of synaesthesia that may affect more than one fifth of the population.
The remarkable findings suggest that many of us may be able to hear faint sounds when observing light flashes or rapid movements despite the fact that we may not normally be aware of it.

The more typical form of synaesthesia, which occurs in a mere 2-4% of the population, cross-wires the senses in such a way that a person may be able to experience, for example, the number eight as the color blue or a particular place or name as the taste of apples.

"A lot of us go around having senses that we do not even recognize," said study leader and cognitive neuroscientist Elliot Freeman from City University, London.
The research involved showing a group of volunteers pairs of visual or auditory patterns and then asking them to determine whether each pair contained the same sequences.

Around 22% of the participants reported hearing sounds while viewing the visual flashes.

"These internal sounds seem to be perceptually real enough to interfere with the detection of externally-generated sounds," said Freeman. "The finding that this 'hearing-motion' phenomenon seems to be much more prevalent compared to other synaesthesias might occur due to the strength of the natural connection between sound and vision."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (5)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by aka CAT 8 years ago
The most senses-- smell, taste, appearance, texture and sound (crispy, crunchy... &c.) -- come into play with foods.    Noticing that your article ended with mention of how musicians learn to link sounds and visual cues, I was reminded of a warning I recently saw on a music a-v in regard to seizure-provoking flashes and images.  Those along with game videos that include intermittent use of saturated red images are particularly problematic for some individuals.   Perhaps due to how I process visual stimulation, I can only briefly enjoy flashy videos or 3-D movies without gettin... [More]
Comment icon #2 Posted by Four Winds 8 years ago
I have had the opposite, where a loud bang produced a flash of white light when my eyes were closed.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Hankenhunter 8 years ago
I wonder if this may be connected to deafness? I am mostly deaf and if I see a strobe light I "hear" a clicking sound.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Parsec 8 years ago
I don't recall the cause now, but I think that's quite normal? 
Comment icon #5 Posted by Parsec 8 years ago
Well, that's very interesting.  And it also explains why sometimes it's so difficult to describe a feeling or a perception to somebody else; you think the other person knows what you are talking about, while in reality they have no idea and have never experienced it.


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