New research from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the City College of New York shows that the visual information you absorb when you see can improve your understanding of the spoken words by as much as sixfold.
Your brain uses the visual information derived from the person's face and lip movements to help you interpret what you hear, and this benefit increases when the sound quality rises to moderately noisy, said Dr. Wei Ji Ma, assistant professor of neuroscience at BCM and the report's lead author, in a report that appears online today in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
"Most people with normal hearing lip-read very well, even though they don't think so," said Ma. "At certain noise levels, lip-reading can increase word recognition performance from 10 to 60 percent correct."
However, when the environment is very noisy or when the voice you are trying to understand is very faint, lip-reading is difficult.
"We find that a minimum sound level is needed for lip-reading to be most effective," said Ma.
This research is the first to study word recognition in a natural setting, where people report freely what they believe is being said. Previous experiments only used limited lists of words for people to choose from.
The lip-reading data help scientists understand how the brain integrates two different kinds of stimuli to come to a conclusion.
Ma and his colleagues constructed a mathematical model that allowed them to predict how successful a person will be at integrating the visual and auditory information.
People actually combine the two stimuli close to optimally, Ma said. What they perceive depends on the reliability of the stimuli.
"Suppose you are a detective," he said. "You have two witnesses to a crime. One is very precise and believable. The other one is not as believable. You take information from both and weigh the believability of each in your determination of what happened."
In a way, lip-reading involves the same kind of integration of information in the brain, he said.
In experiments, videos of individuals were shown in which a person said a word. If the person is presented normally, the visual information provides a great benefit when it is integrated with the auditory information, especially when there is moderate background noise. Surprisingly, if the person is just a "cartoon" that does not truly mouth the word, then the visual information is still helpful, though not as much.
In another study, the person mouths one word but the audio projects another, and often the brain integrates the two stimuli into a totally different perceived word.
"The mathematical model can predict how often the person will understand the word correctly in all these contexts," Ma said.
An example of the visual and audio stimuli used in the experiment can be found at http://bme.engr.ccny.cuny.edu/faculty/parra/bayes-speech/.
Others who took part in this research include Xiang Zhou, Lars A. Ross, John J. Foxe and Lucas C. Parra of The City College of New York in New York City.
When the embargo lifts, the full report can be found at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004638
Glenna Picton | EurekAlert!
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences
21.08.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.08.2017 | Materials Sciences