Mar 29 2020
Your brain fills in the missing pieces.
For this example we will use sound.
We can encounter many situations that distort the sounds we are listening too. Probably one of the most common is when having a conversation. Yet we can still perfectly understand what the person is saying. It is not that we are hearing them perfectly but our brain is substituting in the pieces we are missing. This is known as Phonemic Restoration. We think we are hearing their speech clearly but our brain is actually compensating for what we are not hearing. The brain does however need another sound to convert.
Now listen to the recording again after it has been chopped up.
It becomes a lot harder to understand.
Now listen one more time after white noise has been added to the chopped up audio in place of the silence.
You now hear every word again. It is important to understand the only thing that has been added to the recording is white noise. The originial audio is still chopped up and missing pieces. But your brain is filling in the missing pieces. You are hearing what is not there.
We can even take this a step farther. We can chop the video up into 25 millisecond pieces and then reverse the play of each chopped piece. But your brain will compensate and still let you hear it as it was suppose to be said.
A similar brain phenomenon is sinewave speech. Your brain can extract meaning from nothing but distorted sounds. You brain has circuits that respond to speech but doesn’t turn them on until it recognizes spoken language.
When you first listen to sinewave speech you can barely understand it. You may occassionaly make out a word or two. But when you hear the sinewave speech spoken normally and then go back and listen to the sinewave speech again, it sounds as clear as day to you. You wonder why you couldn’t hear it before and you can no longer hear it as the complete jumbled mess of sounds you heard earlier.
Listen to the samples below. First listen to the sinewave speech then after listening to the actual words go back and listen to the sinewave speech again.