The man who hears you speak before he sees your lips move

Research led by Dr Elliot Freeman, from City University London's Department of Psychology, which examined the first documented case of someone who hears people talk before he sees their lips move, has been published in New Scientist magazine.

The research team studied PH, a retired pilot, who first experienced 'auditory leading' while watching television. He initially suspected poor dubbing, but later noticed the same phenomenon in conversations with people. He could hear what they were saying before he could see their lips moving saying the words he had just heard.

Testing with simple computer-based tasks confirmed a visual delay of almost a quarter of a second. The team then tested a number of 'normal' participants, and were surprised to find similar, though less profound, asynchronies between hearing and vision. They concluded that the sensory asynchrony found in PH is not an exception, but may be a general rule.

Accurately synchronising sight and sound is important in performance of many complex skills such as , learning to read or to speak a new language. In some cases a person's livelihood or even their life might depend on it. Performing artists, tennis players, pilots and surgeons all need to coordinate their behaviour rapidly and accurately on the basis of complex multisensory cues.

The research, could inspire new strategies and devices for optimising multisensory perception, according to Dr Freeman: "The exciting implications of our research are that multisensory is suboptimal in many healthy individuals - and can, in principle, be improved. By simply delaying one sense relative to another, we might be able to deliver immediate benefits, for example improving speech comprehension in hearing-impaired individuals or early ".

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Read my lips'—it's easier when they're your own

Nov 08, 2012

People can lip-read themselves better than they can lip-read others, according to a new study by Nancy Tye-Murray and colleagues from Washington University. Their work, which explores the link between speech perception and ...

Study shows how bilinguals switch between languages

May 20, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Individuals who learn two languages at an early age seem to switch back and forth between separate "sound systems" for each language, according to new research conducted at the University of Arizona.

Recommended for you

Suicide rates rising for older US adults

6 hours ago

Suicide rates for adults between 40 and 64 years of age in the U.S. have risen about 40% since 1999, with a sharp rise since 2007. One possible explanation could be the detrimental effects of the economic downturn of 2007-2009, ...

Thinking of God makes people bigger risk-takers

21 hours ago

Reminders of God can make people more likely to seek out and take risks, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The findings sugges ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.