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Illusion for the eyes and ears – McGurk Effect

Image credit: Elizabeth Johnston.

We’re all used to trusting our senses for information about this world. And while there are certainly plenty of illusions that lead us astray, they almost always come up as tricks that our eyes play on us.

You all know how to pronounce the different consonants, and how to make a plethora of different sounds with your mouth. For example, if you wanted to make the “B” sound, you’d purse your lips together, and burst them outwards at the moment you wanted to create that distinctive “B”.

And you’d certainly never confuse that sound with an “F” sound, would you?

An “F” is entirely different, made by placing your lower lip against your upper teeth, and then pushing air out of your mouth while you’re in that position. The “F” sound is unmistakeable, right?

Believe it or not, if you listen to the “B” sound while you watch someone’s mouth go through the motions of an “F” sound, you will hear the “F”!

Not only will you hear the “F” sound, but you’ll even hear it if you know it’s coming. And it’s coming. Try it. Watch the video below.

This amazing phenomenon is known as the McGurk effect, and I must have watched the above video five or six times already, because no matter how hard I try, my sight overrules my ears! But if I close my eyes, I always hear the true sound.

I’ve never seen a hearing illusion before, and this is a spectacular one. Hope you enjoy it, and a great weekend, too!

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