When we look at an object, our brain processes the look and touch of the object, say USC scientists.
This connection is so strong that a computer examining data coming only from the part of your brain that processes touch can predict which object you are actually looking at.
Building on previous work demonstrating a comparable link between the visual and auditory sectors of the brain, Antonio and Hanna Damasio's research group at the USC Dornsife Brain and Creativity Institute, used magnetic resonance brain scans and specially programmed computers to explore how memory and the senses interact.
"When asked to imagine the difference between touching a cold, slick piece of metal and the warm fur of a kitten, most people admit that they can literally 'feel' the two sensations in their 'mind's touch,'" said Kaspar Meyer, the lead author of the study.
"Our results show that 'feeling with the mind's touch' activates the same parts of the brain that would respond to actual touch," he added.
The findings appeared in the September issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex.