Sunday, November 29, 2009

Science Discovers the Organism-as-a-Whole-in-its-Environment!

A recent study reported by Jeanna Bryner at Live Science feels a little less ground-breaking to me that it probably does to a lot of people. The study found that a physical puff of air directed at blind-folded listeners would affect their perception of a sound played simultaneously. The sound "ba", which we say without releasing a puff, was more often heard as "pa", which does involve a puff, when the listeners felt a puff somewhere else on their bodies.

The research observes that "we have brains that perceive rather than ... eyes that see and ears that hear" and views humans as "whole-body perceiving machines."

To those who have studied general semantics, this comes as no surprise. We learn about reacting as an "organism-as-a-whole-in-its-environment", which clearly implies interactions between the organism and its environment at many levels.

The study does help to substantiate the importance of experience in shaping the brain to uniquely perceive and understand the environment we humans find ourselves in most often. As the article's author notes, "we see and hear people speaking all the time ... so it'd be only natural to learn how to integrate what we see with what we hear."

Only natural, perhaps, but not so obvious.

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