Our five senses of taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight form our unique view of the world. Our senses are what help us figure out the world around us is like.
Our eyes show us what the world is like and what shape things take around us. Our hearing enables us to decipher sounds all around us from the dripping of water to the sound leaves on a tree make when the wind rustles through them.
With the sense of touch, we can tell the texture, composition, and temperature of various objects. However, relying completely on our senses may not be the best idea because they do trick us from time to time.
The McGurk Effect
This is a perceptual phenomenon which demonstrates a connection between our sight and hearing. The illusion occurs when the visual component of one sound is replaced with the other sound.
For example, if a person was to say ‘ba’ but pronounce it visually as ‘fa’ the other person would hear the second ‘fa’ sound instead of the actual ‘ba’ sound which is being uttered. The brain changes what you hear to make it more consistent with what you’re seeing.
The size-weight illusion
This illusion occurs when people expect a larger box to be heavier in weight than the smaller one even though both of them have the same mass. An explanation of this can be given in a way that people pre-conceive a bigger box as heavier because of its size. Therefore, when attempting to lift it, they exert more force. Upon exerting force they realize that the box is light.
A smaller box will be pre-conceived as lighter and much force won’t be put into lifting it which will make it seem heavier even if it weighs exactly the same as the first box. When the same experiment involving pulleys was conducted with blind people they reported both the weights being the same which led scientists to conclude that it is our eyes playing tricks on us.
Tasty treat illusion
A 2010 study by BBC UK shows that by dyeing white wine as red fooled wine tasters into actually believing that it was red.
Similarly, almost half among a group of blindfolded people sipping at orange juice couldn’t tell that they were drinking orange juice. This is because our brain has a pre-conceived idea of how things which look a certain way will taste.
Our sense of smell tricks us into doing things we wouldn’t have even wanted to do in the first place. Studies have shown that our sense of smell tricks the brain into gauging emotional responses and feelings.
A room which is nicely scented will make us feel ‘happier’ than the same room without any scent. This is why bakeries and cafes at most malls are artificially scented with baked goods and coffee scents to draw in customers.
All of us have mirror neurons in our brain which evoke the same feelings in us when we see them on TV, read about them or witness them around us. This is the same phenomenon which causes us to tear up when we see someone crying in a movie especially if we can relate to their situation.
However, for people with mirror-touch synesthesia, these mirror neurons are in a hyperactive state which is a rare condition. Individuals with this condition experience the same situation to those around them. If a person around them were getting hugged, they would feel as if they are actually being hugged too.