Audio Illusions Prove Your Hearing May Not Be As Good As You Thought

hearing-illusion
You ears pick up sound, but it is your brain that does the hard work of making sense of it all. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Many of us have been tricked by visual illusions, but how about audio illusions? Can you trust your ears?

There are many different audio illusion techniques, but the three demonstrated in the video below are the McGurk effect, Tritone paradox, and the Shepard tone. Is seeing believing? With the McGurk effect, a sound is paired with the visual component of another sound, ultimately tricking us into thinking we are hearing something else.

In the video, Greg’s lips are motioning the word “far,” but if you don’t look at him, you’ll notice he is repeatedly saying “bar.” If you are used to watching dubbed movies, the McGurk effect may not trick you because you have learned to ignore the motions of the speaker's mouths.

The Tritone paradox is an auditory illusion, which contains notes with high and low frequency, but our brains have a preference of which to listen to. Diana Deutsch, the creator of the Tritone paradox, says geography and location from infancy play a role in deciding which frequency you prefer. To hear more of Deutsch’s illusions of music and speech, visit her website.

The Shepard tone illusion makes it sound like tones are continuing to climb higher and higher, when in actuality they’re not. However, our brain doesn’t recognize this and it just seems like the sound is rising forever.

To test your ears even more, check out How Old Are Your Ears? (Hearing Test).

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