Sensory Issues in the News
Fifty Shades of Touch
On the blog of Oxford University Press, a cognitive neuroscientist interprets 50 Shades of Grey (both the film and the novel) in terms of the sense of touch:
After all, isn’t the novel about the sensual power of touch? How arousing can a light touch on the neck be? A kiss to the hair? And what about the constriction of rope around your wrists? I was reflecting about where this incredible power comes from, and here my research can help.
Engaging in a Softer Conversation About the Roar from New York’s Airports
“It sounded like we were being strafed,” laments a New Yorker. The city has resorted to noise monitors to track the auditory burden planes impose on neighborhoods. New Yorkers are no strangers to conflicts over noise abatement, and the sensory history of the city shows that there are seldom technological or regulatory quick fixes. This report reaches a characteristically pessimistic conclusion:
Despite the progress, however, there is uncertainty on all sides of the conversation — among local residents, government officials and aviation executives alike — about whether the various efforts will lead to popular solutions, particularly as officials seek to weigh the competing demands of safety, commerce, private enterprise and the public good.
Quiet, please! Researchers worry urban noise may be linked to belly fat, stroke, even death
In this Washington Post report, learn what new studies show about the health effects of the urban cacophony:
While the scientists found that that there was no link between overall body mass index (BMI) and the level of noise, they saw that there was a link between noise and heightened risk of mid-riff bulge. The more sources of noise pollution, the greater it appeared a person’s risk of more belly fat. Specifically, an 0.21 cm increase in waist size for every 5 decibel increase in road traffic noise exposure.
The Terrifying Truth About Air Pollution and Dementia
Mother Jones loves a scary headline. In this country and around the world, air pollution poses severe risks to public health in ways that remind us of the importance of the non-visual senses. This article explains the problem and how the nose knows when you’re at risk.
“Anytime you can smell it, you are in a regime that is very polluted . . . In many ways your nose is a better mass spectrometer than any device on the market.”
Theaster Gates Meditates on Construction in a White Cube
This Hyperallergic review of an exhibition of paintings and sculptures in London gives a shout out to olfaction:
What cannot be denied is the overpowering odor of tar that now fills the main gallery. Scent must be the least used sense when it comes to appreciating contemporary art, except perhaps when a gallery has just finished painting a wall white. But roof tar is quite different from a Proustian madeleine. There is a sensory rush, but not one with a ready association for all of us. To the pampered art writer, not to mention the rich collector, tar smells of class guilt. The scent has an exciting, incendiary power amidst the polished concrete and pristine space.