Your Sunday Morning Illusion

Here’s a cool demonstration of how our brains deal with conflicts between what we hear and what we see by picking favorites and going with the visual cortex. The eyes have it, as it were.

Does this work on you? They say in the video (and in Penn Jillette’s tweet, where I found this) that it’s impossible to turn it off even after you know what’s happening. Personally, I found that once I knew, it was pretty easy to turn it off and and on again — I could look at the “Ff” mouth and see a video clip with unattached sound laid over it, instead of the mouth actually doing the talking. What was your experience?

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.

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  1. I can’t turn it off (I watched it fullscreen, not sure if that influences it). The only way I could turn it off was to cover his mouth. And a couple of times, when I was slow to do so, I’d hear ‘fbah’. I even tried concentrating on his eyes… no dice.

  2. In other examples of this, I have been unable to break the illusion. With this one, I could clearly hear ‘ba’ in all cases except when the announcer was doing voiceovers and the sound was pushed to the background. In those cases, I heard ‘fa’ while looking at the ‘f’ mouth, but I immediately heard ‘ba’ again when the announcer stopped and the sound returned to the fore. I was also watching it fullscreen.

  3. I couldn’t turn it off, but when I made an effort to hear Bah while watch the Fah mouth motions it did change what I heard slightly. I started to hear something that sounded like Bah with an F-like fricative before it. It was really strange. Couldn’t get it to play full screen though.

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