She's Hearing Voices. Neuroskeptic (5 November, 2008). Retrieved 20 November, 2008.
The author of this blog, a neuroscientist, begins by stating that although Auditory hallucinations often signal or accompany certain forms of mental illness, anyone can hear things that others don't or that, quite simply aren't there.
Several examples of over-interpreting sound follow:
- sine wave speech, initially unintelligible begin to sound like actual words after listening to the un-degraded speech from which they were taken
- a doll that plays recorded baby noises sounds like she is saying 'Islam is the Light'
- the supposed backmasking on rock albums of the 80s
Some psychologists claim that suggestion alone is responsible for the over-interpretation of sound, and the neuroscientist sites the 'White Christmas Effect' experiment of the early '60s as the proof used. The experiment is not exactly up to scientific standards of today but one done in 2001 does seem to show that people hear things that are not there simply because they expect to hear it.
Long and short: the brain is constantly processing sensory data but is not necessarily a reliable source of perception (and yet it's our only source!) as it constructs our perceptions by filtering the raw data through the lens of prior knowledge and context.
I came across this blog while doing some research for an essay topic and thoroughly enjoyed several of the posts. This particular post is interesting not only because of the links (I really can hear words in the sine waves - COOL) but also because of the references to the crazy things people come up with (a Satanic/Islam doll? Really?).
Or should I say, because of the crazy things people's brains perceive?
by Shannon Coates