We take in streams of information of radically different forms: photons through the eyes, textures through the skin, air vibrations through the ears, molecules through the nose. Marvelously, we manage to integrate all that information into a unified, coherent feel of the world. It turns out that as we draw in these different streams, we use information from one sense to shape what we take in from others. It’s an efficient way to make the most of our imperfect perceptions. But it also leaves us vulnerable to some remarkable illusions, like the one illustrated in this video.
In my latest column for Discover, I explore our powers of multi-sensory integration. Check it out.