I Feel What You're Saying: Hearing With Your Skin
Chefs know that when their dishes don't look appealing, diners think the food tastes bad. And since the mid-1970s, scientists have produced evidence that the senses work together—for example, people hear with both their eyes and ears. Bryan Gick and Donald Derrick of the University of British Columbia published a paper in Nature expanding the idea of complementary sensory cues. They found that people hear with their skin.
Participants listened to spoken syllables such as "pa" and "ta" and "da" and "ba." When humans say pa and ta, they produce a small burst of air, but do not exhale a puff of air when saying da and ba. While connected to a machine that blew tiny gusts of air onto the skin of their hands and neck, subjects heard the various sounds. When people heard da and ba accompanied by a burst of air, they believed they heard ta and pa. The puff of air—either from the machine or a human—is so slight that detection of it is subconscious. This research indicates that complementary sensing is an innate human trait.
"What's so persuasive about this particular effect," Gick told The New York Times, "is that people are picking up on this information that they don't know they are using."