It is Saturday evening at the state fair. To your left, "Rock around the Clock" wafts out of a tent. Behind you, a group of teenagers is carrying on, laughing loudly. Somewhere, an infant is crying. A profusion of neon signs and blinking lights competes for your attention. A roller coaster plummets and makes a hairpin curve. Your senses are already overloaded. But the experience wouldn't be complete without an ice-cream cone in hand and the aroma of cotton candy and honey-roasted almonds in the air.
A scene like this busy fair illustrates just how many signals bear in on us simultaneously from the environment. Yet our brain is able to integrate all the stimuli and make sense of the cacophony of movement and sound. Exactly how this integration happens is not yet understood--which naturally piques the curiosity of neuroscientists.
This article was originally published with the title Listening with Your Eyes.