Your Brain on Music: Enunciation


a series by daughter, Caroline King

When we listen to people speak, watching their mouths can affect the way we perceive what they're saying. The way their mouths form the syllables they're pronouncing actually influences which consonants we hear!

In a famous experiment in the field of perceptual psychology, researchers presented subjects with one of two videos of a person repeating a single syllable over and over. The sound was identical in both videos, but depending on the way the person in the video moved their mouth, the subjects perceived the syllable to be either "da" or "ba". This phenomenon, called the "McGurk Effect", illustrates that the way we perceive sounds is influenced by visual information as well as auditory information.

So next time you're performing an original song, be sure to enunciate clearly with the movements of your mouth -- it might affect what your audience hears!

Sincerely and scientifically,
Caroline King

Ellen Britton