See What I'm Saying: The Extraordinary Powers of Our Five Senses

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"In this revealing romp through the mysteries of human perception, University of California psychologist and researcher Lawrence D. Rosenblum explores the astonishing abilities of the five senses-skills of which most of us are remarkably unaware. Drawing on groundbreaking insights into the brain's plasticity and integrative powers, including findings from his own research, Rosenblum examines how our brains use the subtlest bits of information to perceive the world. A blind person, for example, can "see" through batlike echolocation; a master sommelier can actually taste the grape variety, region, and vintage of an obscure wine; and pheromones can subliminally signal a lover's compatibility." "To illustrate these implicit perceptual skills, Rosenblum takes us from the "beep" baseball fields where blind players swing at beeping balls to a pitch-black restaurant where diners experience taste without the aid of sight. We accompany him on a visit to an Oscar-winning animator who explains how the public's expertise in perceiving faces has made his job so difficult, and a visit with a supermodel to discuss why beautiful faces are irresistible." New studies have shed light on the surprising power and reach of our senses. It turns out that our brains use entire forms of perceptual information of which we are largely unaware. We can hear things that don't make sounds, feel things without touching them, see things with no form, and smell things that have no discernable odor. Throughout the book, Rosenblum not only illuminates the fascinating science behind our hidden perceptual powers but also demonstrates how increased awareness of these abilities can actually lead us to enhance how we usethem.

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Editorial Reviews

Rachel Herz
“This is the first book I’ve seen that expertly draws the non-scientist into the fascinating world of sensory experience and perception. Until now, the popular science of sensation and perception has been less sexy than neuroscience, but See What I’m Saying will change that. Rosenblum engages the reader with many lively personal experiences and stories of intriguing individuals and he does this while melding in lucidly explained hard science.”
Robert Remez
“This terrific book might have been subtitled Tales of Perceptual Versatility! Combining extraordinary cases, classic studies and the latest reports from the laboratory, See What I'm Saying exposes the psychological dynamics of perception. With great charm, Lawrence Rosenblum describes the functions of five senses in noticing and knowing objects and events. His book treats these intricate phenomena in a deft and appealing way.”
Library Journal
Blind mountain bikers who use batlike echolocation. A restaurant where diners eat in total darkness. People who can follow a scent trail across a lawn. Psychologist Rosenblum (Univ. of California, Riverside) describes in language accessible to lay readers a quirky collection of sensory wonders, which he then explains scientifically and also describes how to duplicate easily. His main neurological points are that the brain can adjust to new conditions throughout life via the concept of neuroplasticity and that the senses work together. VERDICT Fans of Steven Pinker's How the Mind Works will find a cousin in this science book for nonscientists. Followers with an interest in parapsychology and/or human potential movement ideas may also want to try out the you-can-do-these-at-home experiments. Bright teens might also get hooked—hint, hint, teachers and parents! [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/09.]—Mary Ann Hughes, Shelton, WA
Kirkus Reviews
An eye-opening look at the mechanics of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Rosenblum (Psychology/Univ. of California, Riverside) begins with a memorable scene, as he accompanies a troupe of bicyclists through a suburban street. All are blind. Like bats, they navigate through echolocation, making sounds and detecting their reflection from nearby objects. The author emphasizes that this requires no special gift. Following his instructions, readers with eyes shut will have no trouble sensing a wall; bicycling requires practice. As encouragement, he points out that an entire league of blind baseball players exists, assisted by bases and balls that emit sounds. Casting his net widely, Rosenblum interviews individuals with sensory skills (master sommeliers, film and architectural sound designers, professional tasters), those who have lost senses but adapted (blind artists, deaf lip readers) and, perhaps most important, scientists who work in this field. It turns out that no sense works in isolation (food eaten in the dark tastes bland), our bodies react to stimuli too faint to detect and practice not only makes perfect, it produces detectable changes in our brains, sometimes within hours. Readers will have to pay closer attention to the book's second half, which recounts an avalanche of sensory research, aided by new high-tech scanners that reveal an amazingly plastic brain whose local areas once assigned to specific senses routinely exchange responsibilities. We can see speech, hear shapes, touch flavor, taste odors and smell affection. Rosenblum's enthusiasm is contagious and his prose accessible, and he is mostly successful in explaining massive amounts of information about sensoryabilities we take for granted. Agent: Richard Pine/InkWell Management
“[An] appealing and compelling look at new findings about the powers of our less-conscious brain, the realm of the senses.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393067606
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/22/2010
  • Pages: 350
  • Sales rank: 1,109,061
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence D. Rosenblum, an award-winning Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, is the recipient of multiple National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health grants for his research on lipreading and multimodal integration and a grant from the National Federation of the Blind for his research on the audibility of hybrid cars. Rosenblum’s work has been featured in The Economist, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and on National Public Radio. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xv

Part I Hearing

Chapter 1 The Sounds of Silence 3

Chapter 2 Perfect Pitches, Beeping Pitches 29

Part II Smelling

Chapter 3 You Smell like a Dog 59

Chapter 4 Like Marvin Gaye for Your Nose 79

Part III Tasting

Chapter 5 Cold Leftovers with a Fine North Dakota Cabernet 101

Part IV Touching

Chapter 6 Rubber Hands and Rubber Brains 127

Chapter 7 Touching Speech and Feeling Rainbows 151

Part V Seeing

Chapter 8 Facing the Uncanny Valley 175

Chapter 9 The Highest Form of Flattery 203

Part VI Multisensory Perception

Chapter 10 See What I'm Saying 239

Chapter 11 All of the Above 267

Epilogue 295

Notes 297

Photograph Credits 331

Index 333

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