After providing all the funding for The Brain from Top to Bottom for over 10 years, the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction informed us that because of budget cuts, they were going to be forced to stop sponsoring us as of March 31st, 2013.

We have approached a number of organizations, all of which have recognized the value of our work. But we have not managed to find the funding we need. We must therefore ask our readers for donations so that we can continue updating and adding new content to The Brain from Top to Bottom web site and blog.

Please, rest assured that we are doing our utmost to continue our mission of providing the general public with the best possible information about the brain and neuroscience in the original spirit of the Internet: the desire to share information free of charge and with no adverstising.

Whether your support is moral, financial, or both, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Bruno Dubuc, Patrick Robert, Denis Paquet, and Al Daigen

Tuesday, 9 June 2015
The McGurk Effect: An Auditory Illusion

This week’s post will be brief, so that you can get out and enjoy the start of summer and the restoratjve effects of nature, but the subject is very intriguing.

Have you ever heard of the McGurk effect? It’s an auditory illusion that shows just how much our brains construct our auditory perceptions not only from what we hear but also from what we see.

In the case of spoken words, what we see is the mouth of the person who is talking to us.

If you watch a video where, on the audio track, someone is actually saying “ba”, but in the image, their mouth is pronouncing the sound “fa”, the sound “fa” is what you’ll hear. But if you then look away from the screen and play the video again, you’ll hear “ba”!

Even Lawrence Rosenblum, the researcher who made the video at the first link below, who has been studying this illusion for 25 years, and who has observed it thousands of times still gets fooled every time. It is the auditory equivalent of numerous optical illusions, such as Adelson’s checkerboard, where even when you have been shown the proof, it is hard to believe that the two adjacent squares are the same shade of grey.

In other words, certain circuits in our brain are so “hard-wired” that our poor little rational minds haven’t got a chance!

i_lien Horizon: Is Seeing Believing? Try The McGurk Effect!
i_lien Can You Trust Your Ears? (Audio Illusions)

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