Scientists at The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital -- The Neuro, McGill University have discovered that our brains have the ability to determine the shape of an object simply by processing specially-coded sounds, without any visual or tactile input. Not only does this new research tell us about the plasticity of the brain and how it perceives the world around us, it also provides important new possibilities for aiding those who are blind or with impaired vision.

Shape is an inherent property of objects existing in both vision and touch but not sound. Researchers at The Neuro posed the question 'can shape be represented by sound artificially?' "The fact that a property of sound such as frequency can be used to convey shape information suggests that as long as the spatial relation is coded in a systematic way, shape can be preserved and made accessible -- even if the medium via which space is coded is not spatial in its physical nature," says Jung-Kyong Kim, PhD student in Dr. Robert Zatorre's lab at The Neuro and lead investigator in the study.

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