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Hearing changes how we perceive gender
Date:10/24/2007

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Think about the confused feelings that occur when you meet someone whose tone of voice doesnt seem to quite fit with his or her gender.

A new study by neuroscientists from Northwestern University focuses on the brains processing of such sensory information about anothers gender to examine whether hearing fundamentally changes visual experience.

The study concludes that it does, weighing in with findings that contribute to provocative evidence about multi-sensory processing of our world that has been emerging in recent years.

Auditory-Visual Cross-Modal Integration in Perception of Face Gender, was published in a recent issue of Current Biology. The studys co-authors are investigators at Northwesterns Visual Perception, Cognition and Neuroscience Laboratory: lead author Eric Smith, graduate student, Marcia Grabowecky, research assistant professor of psychology, and Satoru Suzuki, associate professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.

Researchers have long thought that one part of the brain does vision and another does auditory processing and that the two really dont communicate with each other, said Grabowecky. But emerging research suggests that rich information from different senses come together quickly and influence each other so that we dont experience the world one sense at a time.

The Northwestern study suggests that sensory interactions are happening at a very early level and tones of voices indeed fundamentally change visual processing.

For our study, we used simple tones with no explicit gender information to get a window into how vision and au
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Contact: Pat Vaughan Tremmel
p-tremmel@northwestern.edu
847-491-4892
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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