Good News, Short People: Your Senses May Be Faster Than Tall People's

By Rachel Cernansky | May 19, 2009 1:38 pm

tall.jpgShort people may be disadvantaged on the basketball court, in the workplace, and when trying to see over large crowds, but they just might be quicker in sensing the world around them—because, well, their signals don’t have to travel as far to get to their brains.

In effect, this means that tall people are living in the past, if only by a tenth of a second. This is all according to neuroscientist David Eagleman, whose essay entitled “Brain Time” suggests that “if the brain wants to get events correct timewise, it may have only one choice: wait for the slowest information to arrive.”

See, before the brain can process external events, it must receive and synchronize all incoming sensory data—from the eyes, ears, tongue, and skin. But these messages come at different times and speeds. For example, if someone touches your nose and your foot at the same time, you register the touches simultaneously, even though the signals had to travel farther from your foot to your brain than they did from your nose.

As such, according to Eagleman, the brain may wait for the last signal to arrive before it processes what a group of signals mean. Because sensory signals need more time to travel the longer limbs of tall people, he says, their brains could experience a (very very small) processing delay.

The average tall person, therefore, “will live his sensory life on a teeny delay.” Though it’s still not enough to make short people superior at basketball. With the occasional exception.

Related Content:
Discoblog: The Nose Knows: Men’s Sweat Smells Like Cheese, Women’s Like Onions

Image: Flickr / howieluvzus

CATEGORIZED UNDER: What’s Inside Your Brain?
MORE ABOUT: brain, senses, smells
  • Pingback: Sad News For the Vertically Challenged: Tall Men Are Happier And Richer, Study Says | Discoblog | Discover Magazine()

  • Rob Schick

    Two advantaginges short people have is physical speed..that goes along with the senses..We can aviod sometimes life threatening situations…another advantage is not bumping our heads on hanging objects..maybe that’s why tall people aren’t as smart..! Just Kidding..!

  • LLOYD

    What height is considered short,and what height is considered tall?

  • http://thewhatever.com Denis Maruffo

    LOL that sure is a funny picture. Thanks for sharing it! :)

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »