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

July 8, 2013

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 ".

Explore further: 15 years of brain research: Multisensory speech perception examined

Related Stories

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

November 8, 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

For health and happiness, share good news

January 22, 2017

Service members, including both active and recently separated, have been called upon to fight overseas and to assist during natural disasters at home. They can face unique challenges when they return in both the workplace ...

The great unknown—risk-taking behaviour in adolescents

January 19, 2017

Adolescents are more likely to ignore information that could prompt them to rethink risky decisions. This may explain why information campaigns on risky behaviors such as drug abuse tend to have only limited success. These ...

Mandarin makes you more musical?

January 18, 2017

Mandarin makes you more musical - and at a much earlier age than previously thought. That's the suggestion of a new study from the University of California San Diego. But hold on there, overachiever parents, don't' rush just ...

Adoptees advantaged by birth language memory

January 18, 2017

Language learning very early on in life can be subconsciously retained even when no conscious knowledge of the early experience remains. The subconscious knowledge can then be tapped to speed up learning of the pronunciation ...

0 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.