The McGurk Effect

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

This video provides a fascinating experience of how we what see influences what we hear. It’s quite disconcerting. Essentially you hear the word “bah” being repeated. But when the visual image of the speaker’s mouth is changed, you hear a quite different word “far”. It seems that the soundtrack must be changing. But it isn’t.

It’s a little like demonstrations of the blind spot in our vision… we might be perplexed but we probably consign the experience to memory and think little of it.  I think it’s actually a little sidelight on something very significant about the complexity of the world and how we interpret it. We think we are seeing/hearing reality; but actually our brain is creating this reality for us based on all sorts of complex information.

Here’s another YouTube that this one put me in mind of:

In the still face experiment, we get a glimpse of the sensitivity of a baby to the subtle signals she gets from her mother. There’s a lot going on in communication that is beyond words. I blogged another variation of this experiment here – looking at the huge impact on the infant of a mere two-second delay in synchrony with the mother.

Bonus link: The McGurk effect seems a great example of the brain as a parallel processing machine – in line with Patricia Churchland’s ideas.

Hat tip: David Gurteen

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