n. a palpable vibration on the human body.

  • Hepatic fremitus is a vibration felt over a person’s liver. It is thought to be caused by a severely inflamed and necrotic liver rubbing up against the peritoneum.
  • Hydatid fremitus is a vibratory sensation felt on palpating a hydatid cyst.
  • Pericardial fremitus is a vibration felt on the chest wall due to the friction of the surfaces of the pericardium over each other.
  • Periodontal fremitus occurs in either of the alveolar bones when an individual sustains trauma from occlusion. It is a result of teeth exhibiting at least slight mobility rubbing against the adjacent walls of their sockets, the volume of which has been expanded ever so slightly by inflammatory responses, bone resorption or both.
  • Pleural fremitus is a palpable vibration of the wall of the thorax caused by friction between the parietal and visceral pleura of the lungs.
  • Rhonchal fremitus, also known as bronchial fremitus, is a palpable vibration produced during breathing caused by partial airway obstruction.
  • Subjective fremitus is a vibration felt by a person who hums with the mouth closed.
  • Tussive fremitus is a vibration felt on the chest when a person coughs.
  • Vocal Fremitus, also called pectoral fremitus, or tactile vocal fremitus, is a vibration felt on a person’s chest during low frequency vocalization.

(via Wikipedia)

Skeptic criticizes cognitive benefits of video games

How do video games affect cognition? There’s some evidence that they may improve it, but not all are convinced:

A French boffin is pouring scorn upon claims made by Japanese gaming giant Nintendo about the educational value of some of its ‘edutainment’ software.

Games like Big Brain Academy and Brain Training for the handheld Nintendo DS are touted as tools which can test and rejuvinate a user’s brain function, increase blood flow to the brain and improve memory and practical intelligence.

But Professor Alain Lieury from the University of Rennes has recently conducted a scientific survey of ten-year-old human lab rats which he reckons proves that the company’s claims are complete and utter cobblers.

“The Nintendo DS is a technological jewel. As a game it’s fine,” he told The Times, “but it is charlatanism to claim that it is a scientific test.”

Nearly 90 million DS units have been sold, many of them on the seemingly unfounded promise that using the twin-screened handheld console will help the age-addled among us keep our grey matter in tip-top condition, despite years of watching endless reruns of The Simpsons, getting three hours of sleep a night and drinking like vikings.

The prof reckons that both you and your kids will get just as much benefit from working out maths and logic problems using a 10p pencil as a £100 DS console and any amount of £30 software packages.

Beware French boffins pouring scorn!

(via Althouse)

Facial movement affects hearing


The movement of facial skin and muscles around the mouth plays an important role not only in the way the sounds of speech are made, but also in the way they are heard… “How your own face is moving makes a difference in how you ‘hear’ what you hear,” said first author Takayuki Ito, a senior scientist at Haskins.

Note that this sentence says that facial movement doesn’t affect what you hear, it only affects how you “hear” what you hear. More on this below.

When, Ito and his colleagues used a robotic device to stretch the facial skin of “listeners” in a way that would normally accompany speech production they found it affected the way the subjects heard the speech sounds.

The subjects listened to words one at a time that were taken from a computer-produced continuum between the words “head” and “had.” When the robot stretched the listener’s facial skin upward, words sounded more like “head.” With downward stretch, words sounded more like “had.” A backward stretch had no perceptual effect.

And, timing of the skin stretch was critical—perceptual changes were only observed when the stretch was similar to what occurs during speech production.

These effects of facial skin stretch indicate the involvement of the somatosensory system in the neural processing of speech sounds. This finding contributes in an important way to our understanding of the relationship between speech perception and production. It shows that there is a broad, non-auditory basis for “hearing” and that speech perception has important neural links to the mechanisms of speech production.

“Listeners,” “hearing”… Why do I worry so much about these damn quotation marks? Because they point out an assumption we tend to make about perception: that there are objective sense data out there in the world, ready to be accessed through our senses. Within this model, secondary effects (caused by face pulling robots) are seen as tricks played on our minds. But this is backwards. The astounding implication of this research is that our minds are composed of these tricks; the tricks are what produce a stable reality that meets our expectations.

For example, when the researchers were listening to recordings of the words “had” and “head” in order to design their experiment, the shape of their faces must have affected their hearing. (At least, that’s what their research seems to imply.) So who can listen without “listening”? Who determines whether the word is really “had” or “head”—someone without any facial expression at all?

The paper itself, which I haven’t read, can be purchased here.