Now hear this

George Spirou ’77

For the gazillionth time, the man on TV says, “Can you hear me now?”

We hear him all right. Our brains have processed the sound, along with other information, like the direction from which the sound emanates.

In Professor Nestor Matthew’s Psych 340 class, Sensory and Perception, students recently were stimulated by a visit from George Spirou ’77, director of the Center for Neuroscience at West Virginia University.

His topic that afternoon was the auditory system and the physical process of how we hear things.

“Everything is neuroscience,” Spirou told the class.

To demonstrate the phenomenon of “localization,” he borrowed a set of keys and asked the class to close their eyes. Then he jingled the keys and asked the students to point in the direction of the sound. The students responded with a roughly 90 percent success rate.

“Our brains process such detailed information that we can triangulate the location of a sound because of the distance our ears are set apart,” he said.

Ergo, if that cell phone commercial makes you want to toss your remote at the TV, you don’t actually have to have your eyes open to throw it.

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