Brain/Hand Bass Synaesthesia?
December 14, 2020 11:56 AM   Subscribe

I've been playing Doom Eternal recently, and when I have my headphones on, I can *feel* my hand-nerves vibrating. Looking for resources on this sort of "synaesthesia"?

When I played this game I felt it when the bass kicks in and was so startled, I thought perhaps it was my speakers were on that I Took the headphones off, and the speakers were not playing, and the vibrating feeling stopped.

Then I put the phones back on and it starts back up. It's not the same as physical vibration as if I'm next to a loud bass, its a bit more subtle, but noticeable. Most of the bass information I'm seeing relates to things like chest vibration with really loud bass, but this is very much related to the the nerves in my brain sending impulses to the hand (mostly on my mouse hand, but to a lesser degree on my keyboard hand).

This doesn't seem to fall under the common synaesthesia experiences I'm finding, and most of the information relating to bass (it definitely ebbs/flows with the strength of the bass) relates more to physical affection with really loud bass shaking. This is more like a mild paraesthesia but sustained (not prickly) and more deep to the nerves itself. IDK how to explain it.

I don't *think* this happens with other music, I've only (mostly?) noticed it with the Doom Eternal Soundtrack. I'm unsure if this is really a psychological effect or neurological or maybe some hybrid?

Any links or thoughts???
posted by symbioid to Science & Nature (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do some testing on other bass! Maybe something totally different but with lots of deep bass, e.g. Superorganism.

Also test it with good earbuds and Doom, and listening to the soundtrack without playing (that one could tell you a lot if the effect does not manifest).

Finally I think it could conceivably be directly physical, just by the phones rattling your skull, which they can do with far less power than it takes a speaker stack to rattle your chest cavity.
posted by SaltySalticid at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good Idea. I know the effect happens in the menu, once that bass kicks in, my hand feels it. So I'm not actually playing the game at that point. But yeah maybe the soundtrack would be a good test.

I have a few other headphone options (and buds, but not sure I have "good" buds that'll provide the bass necessary). It's so eery. LOL. Will have to experiment.
posted by symbioid at 4:14 PM on December 14, 2020

Your brain does this thing where it anticipates reward by trying to predict the reward pattern. Reward, in this case, being the pleasure you get from playing -- excitement, adrenaline, etc. I'd wager that this is the system at work; hearing the soundtrack, it is trying to get you to do the thing you do with your mouse hand that, when paired with the soundtrack, makes the pleasure roll in. It's a emotional/instinctive level thing, which isn't really analytical enough to realize there's a computer and a screen and so on involved in this reward.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:46 PM on December 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Wow, someone else with an analogous experience! When I listen to music with headphones, I feel it in my feet, strongly enough that it seems to be coming through the floor.

No idea what causes it or what it's called, but fear not: you are not alone.
posted by WaywardPlane at 8:04 AM on December 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

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