Saturday, June 18, 2022

Your Senses Limit Your Reality

David Eagleman is a Stanford professor of neuroscience, author, and cofounder of the company, Neosensory.  Eagleman believes that, "Our experience of reality is constrained by our biology," meaning that human beings are only picking up on a small slice of the sensory information available in the world because they lack the proper biological receptors. He calls that slice of sensory information any creature can receive their umvelt, which means "the surrounding world" in German. Eagleman points out how ticks are blind and deaf but they sense temperature and taste to target their prey, how bats use echolocation to build a full reality, or how honey bees use ultraviolet. Each creature, including humans, believes in the world that their senses build for them, and his team at Neosensory is working on technology to expand peoples' understanding and experience of the world around them by allowing them to expand their inputs.

Interestingly, Eagleman refers to our sense inputs (our nose, our fingertips, or ears) as plug and play peripherals, and thinking that way has allowed them to develop other peripherals. He references sonic glasses that buzz as they encounter objects, and discusses how they can be used with either headphones for hearing people or just tactilely on the skin for the deaf to deliver information, and says that after a few weeks blind people can interpret that information. His lab decided to work with deaf people to develop a wearable vest and watch that translates sound to vibrations. Eagleman says that just after 4 days, their profoundly deaf subject could sense words (12:00), and it is excepted that after 3 months he will have developed another path for hearing, through his skin.  Eagleman and his team considered the technology that makes a cochlear implant work and have not only made it less invasive they have made it much less expensive, which makes a fuller sensory experience available to more people. Neosensory currently offers products for hearing loss, tinnitus and deafness, but they are working to expand their products so that people can have a greater experience of the world.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is so interesting! I also agree that humans are only picking up on a small slice of sensory information. It is kind of like how blind or deaf people enhance their other senses because they are using them more.