Quick thing on perception and illusion from an example of one.



Professor Steve Stewart-Williams, one of my twitter folk posted this thing about perceptual illusions. They were all visual. I can’t see them, but I remember seeing some back when I could see well enough to see them. Even then, not all of them would work. In fact, I had different illusions of my own.

I’m feeling the urge to comment, but want to add something to the topic at hand, so I googled “audio illutions.” Google corrected my spelling, and gave me this thing.

Can You Trust Your Ears?

Turns out some of those still use visual imagery, presumably shown in the video, , but something interesting happened while the guy was going “bar, bar, bar…” As I’m listening to it for the second time, I’m wondering what the point is. It still sounds like “bar bar” to me—it sounds like the same clip again. Then he says we probably just heard “far, far, far.”

No I didn’t.

It just occurred to me; I still don’t know for certain if it was bar or far. Maybe it was “far, far far the entire time.” Whatever, I heard a B!

The host explained how the image we see can change what we hear. I’m thinking maybe he showed the letter f, or something. the audio clip played again, and the host continued talking over it.

for just a second, just for one syllable, I heard “far” instead of “bar.”

Wait… what’s this? Did thinking about the letter f just change what I heard?

I snagged the audio so I could edit it, especially after the shepherd’s tone bit. I found that I could sort of pick whether I would hear “far” or “bar,” but it most definitely defaulted to the “bar” sound.

Now, the shepherd’s tone. It didn’t sound like it was still climbing the second time he played it. It sounded like the same clip being played again, which it was. This time, the host frontloaded us—he told us how the illusion should end up sounding. And, there was a big fat gap while he talked. I thought maybe I didn’t hear the illusion because of the gap, so I took it out.

At first, it worked. I was checking that the edit had successfully remove the bit where the host was talking. I heard the very end of the first time the sound is played, and then straight into the second time through. it did sound like it was still going up.

However, if I played it from the beginning, back to back with no pause, it sounded like it started over—the illusion didn’t happen.

I was a semi-professional musician for a chunk of years, I wonder if it’s different because of that, or because I’m blind, or maybe because I’ve been using echo-location and the vOICe.

Odd, isn’t it…? The things that shape and sculpt what dreams we’re made of.


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