February 1, 2007

What do we hear with our eyes?

attention, perception, unconscious processes — alice @ 11:13 pm Print This Post  AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Would we hear things differently if we always kept our eyes closed? The answer is yes! The McGurk Effect is a classic illustration of how the spoken sounds we hear are influenced by whether or not we can see the speaker’s lips.

Click here for a great online example of the McGurk Effect. In this online example, we see a person saying (making lip movements for) “GA GA”, but in reality, we are hearing “BA BA”. When these sounds and lip movements are combined, most adults think that they are hearing “DA DA”.

Our brains find a resolution when the perceived visual and auditory information conflict, because we use both types of information to figure out the sounds a person is making. In this case, “GA GA” and “BA BA” meet in the middle when they are combined and we think that we hear “DA DA”. In other cases, however, perceived visual information can completely change what we think we hear. The McGurk Effect demonstrates that we integrate sensory information unconsciously, reminding us that there is a lot more going on inside our heads than we may think.

1 Comment »

  1. This only takes a minute and its cool Click the online example of the effect. Listen with eyes closed, then open and watch..its pretty amazing.

    Comment by Clay — February 3, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

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