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Colm Kelleher: How We See Color

Colm Kelleher explains how humans can see everything from auburn to aquamarine.

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Introduction

From the jarring sound of a car horn to the enticing smell of a favorite meal, our senses help us navigate smoothly through day-to-day activities. Every sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch stems from a flurry of activity between brain cells. But what happens when the brain fails to process sensory information with ease? With recent advances in genetics and imaging technology, researchers hope to gain new insight into what goes wrong in disorders including eye disease, hearing loss, and persistent pain. Ongoing studies are helping researchers identify genes that underlie everything from inherited forms of deafness and eye disease to those that influence taste. Scientists are studying how to replace nerve cells that help process sight and sound in an effort to help the millions worldwide with sensory loss. Researchers are also using modern imaging tools to study perception of sensory information and how it becomes distorted in disorders such as persistent pain.

Discoveries

Image of the Week: How Big Brains Handle Pain

Source: Society for Neuroscience
Brainy mollusks are enhancing our understanding of injury in the animal kingdom.

Synesthesia

Source: Society for Neuroscience

Imagine hearing a bird chirp and seeing the color yellow. This is what life may be like for someone with synesthesia. Explore the unique experiences of a synesthete and learn more about this rare condition. 


A Mind About Touch

Source: Society for Neuroscience
When a fly lands on your arm, how does your brain respond? Learn how touch travels through your brain with this video. 

Senses and Perception in the News

Magnifying the Body May Reduce Pain

Source: Inside Science
Date: 22 April 2014
In healthy people, seeing an enlarged hand lessened the subjective experience of pain.

Pressure Sensors to Help Prevent Pain for Amputees

Source: BBC
Date: 14 April 2014
Researchers have developed a new type of pressure sensor - dubbed a "second skin" - which they say could prevent dangerous sores.

Why Do People See Faces in the Moon?

Source: National Geographic
Date: 12 April 2014
Our brains are hard-wired to find meaningful images in random lines and shapes—even if those figures are on the moon.