Posted by & filed under Language-Thought, Neuroscience, Sensation-Perception, Sensory-Perceptual Development.

Description: So which of your senses (your vision or your hearing) does your brain give more credence to when interpreting incoming sensory information about the world? Parents are not supposed to have “favorite” children right, so should our brain have a “favorite” sense? OK maybe that’s not a fair comparison. To experience the McGurk effect go and have a look at the BBC video available at the YouTube link below. After that go and read the ScienceDaily article about some just published research looking at how we can make sense out of how our brain is functioning when it produces the McGurk effect.

Date: February 16, 2017

Photo Credit:  Magnotti JF and Beauchamp MS, CCBY SA

Links:  Article Links – BBC Video on the McGurk Effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-lN8vWm3m0

Science Daily Article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170216143941.htm

Stimuli Used in the study: http://openwetware.org/wiki/Beauchamp:McGurk_CI_Stimuli

So our brain likes our eyes better than our ear and seeing IS believing? Well it may just be that the McGurk effect is one example of the fact that we tend to rely more heavily on our vision when trying to figure out what is going on around us in the world. We may give precedence to visual information when the links between incoming visual and auditory sensory information are uncertain. The research described in the second link above (with stimuli examples used view-able in the third link above) involves an effort to figure out just how our brain goes about the task of integrating streams of incoming visual and auditory sensory information. Specifically the researchers where able to show that our brains engage in a sort of causal modelling to make a “decision” as to which of the sensory streams will be used to resolve the interpretive ambiguity presented in the McGurk effect stimuli. So, are we wired or built by evolutionary design to do this and to experience the McGurk effect? Well maybe not. There is a research article in the reference list that reports that skilled musicians do not show the McGurk effect. Our brains learn to interpret our world by taking our experiences and skills into account or by being calibrated by those experiences and skills.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the McGurk effect?
  2. In what sorts of social situations might the McGurk effect create problems for us??
  3. What does the research described in the second link above suggest about how our brains function in creating the McGurk effect?

References (Read Further):

Magnotti, John F., Beauchamp, Michael S.  A Causal Inference Model Explains Perception of the McGurk Effect and Other Incongruent Audiovisual Speech. PLOS Computational Biology, 2017; 13 (2): e1005229 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005229

Proverbio, A. M., Massetti, G., Rizzi, E., & Zani, A. (2016). Skilled musicians are not subject to the McGurk effect. Scientific Reports, 6.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4958963/

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