Sensations on the skin play a part in how people hear speech, say Canadian researchers.
A study found that inaudible puffs of air delivered alongside certain sounds influenced what participants thought they were listening to.
Writing in the journal Nature, the team said the findings showed that audio and visual clues were not the only important factors in how people hear.
The findings may lead to better aids for the hard of hearing, experts said.
It is already well known that visual cues from a speaker's face can enhance or interfere with how a person hears what is being said.
In the latest study, researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver wanted to look at whether tactile sensations also affected how sounds are heard.
They compared sounds which when spoken are accompanied by a small inaudible breath of air, such as "pa" and "ta" with sounds which do not such as "ba" and "da".
At the same time, participants were given - or not - a small puff of air to the back of the hand or the neck.
They found that "ba" and "da", known as unaspirated sounds, were heard as the aspirated equivalents, "pa" and "ta", when presented alongside the puff of air.
[source: BBC - see references]