An Auditory Illusion (Richard M Warren )

Subject: An Auditory Illusion
From:    Richard M Warren  <rmwarren(at)CSD.UWM.EDU>
Date:    Mon, 28 Apr 1997 17:35:25 -0500

I have a comment and a question concerning the "high-low illusion" on Deutsch's CD referred to in Mercuri's e-mail to recipients of the Auditory List. The illusion on the CD, in which the alternating words "high" and "low" changed to other words when repeated is called the "verbal transformation effect" and was reported by me in the late 1950s. It occurs when any clearly enunciated word, phrase, or sentence is heard to repeat over and over, and can involve considerable phonetic distortion. I have published about ten articles on this topic, and all told there are roughly 80-90 papers in the literature dealing with this illusion. The question I have concerns a puzzling variant of verbal transformations that occurs when each ear hears the same repeated word dichotically with the delay of 1/2 the repetition period separating the repeating statements in each ear -- the illusory changes occur independently on each side, so that different forms can be heard simultaneously at each ear. I believe I understand how and why monaural and diotic changes occur -- and the question is: If there is a single speech processor, how can the same stimulus be heard asynchronously as two forms that are sometimes dramatically different? There is also a "trichotic" version that also works if three asynchronous statements of the same repeating word (each separated by 1/3 period from the other two) are heard simultaneously at different locations (monaural right, monaural left, and diotic center). Then, three different forms may be heard at the same time. If anyone has any ideas on this topic, please let me know.

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