Friday, November 22, 2013

Seeing Is Believing, 1 of 5

Do you know about the McGurk effect? It describes a perceptual phenomenon, an illusion really, related to hearing and seeing in decoding speech. The illusion occurs when the auditory component of one sound is paired with the visual component of another sound, leading to the perception of a third sound. Reportedly it was first described in 1976 in a paper by Harry McGurk and MacDonald entitled "Hearing Lips and Seeing Voices." The phenomenon was discovered accidently when McGurk and his research assistant, MacDonald, asked a technician to dub a video with a different sound from the one spoken while conducting a study on how infants perceive language at different developmental stages. When the video was played back, both researchers heard a third sound rather than the one spoken or mouthed in the video. If a person is getting poor quality auditory information but good quality visual information, they may be more likely to experience the McGurk effect and go with what they “saw” rather than what they “heard.” 

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