- Neuroscientists used to think of the brain as a Swiss Army knife with different regions dedicated exclusively to different forms of sensory perception, such as sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.
- In the past three decades studies in psychology and neuroscience have revealed that the brain is an extensively multisensory organ that constantly melds information from the various senses.
- The multisensory revolution has not only changed the way scientists understand the function of the brain, it has also suggested new ways to help the blind and deaf and has improved speech-recognition software.
In the late 1970s the fbi hired sue thomas, along with eight other deaf individuals, to analyze fingerprint patterns. Deaf people, the agency reasoned, might have an easier time staying focused during the notoriously meticulous task. From the first day, however, Thomas found the job unbearably monotonous. She complained to her superiors so often that she was prepared to walk away unemployed when her boss summoned her to a meeting with other agents in his office.
But Thomas was not fired—she was, in a sense, promoted. The agents showed her a silent video of two criminal suspects conversing and asked her to decipher their conversation.
This article was originally published with the title A Confederacy of Senses.