Last updated January 11, 2018 at 10:45 am
In an Australian and Italian collaboration, scientists have revealed that just like our sight, our audio perception is cyclical, not constant. In fact, they found that these auditory cycles occur at the rate of about six per second.
“These findings that auditory perception also goes through peaks and troughs supports the theory that perception is not passive but in fact our understanding of the world goes through cycles,” said Professor David Alais from the University of Sydney, one of the study’s researchers.
This new research rings true with current theories about our decision-making abilities which also oscillate at the same rate of six cycles per second.
Because this phenomenon has been observed in both sight and now sound, the authors go on to suggest that it may reflect a more general perceptual mechanism. They hope to study the sense of touch next.
It remains unclear why the brain would choose to sample information in this rhythmic manner. However, one theory is that it reflects the action of attention which appears to sample neural activity in rapid bursts.
In other words, the brain samples the world around us to determine what we need to focus our brain’s energy on. It makes sense that the brain is more selective rather than a constant scan of everything around us, the brain is able to prioritise information processing.
This discovery is revealing more about human perception than we’ve known before, enhancing our understanding of human behaviour and decision-making processes.
“A decade ago, no one would have thought that perception is constantly strobing – flickering like an old silent movie.”<
This research was published in Current Biology.