[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[no subject]

I have some comments on Dick Warren's comment on the 'high-low' illusion.

First, verbal tranformation effects in general are indeed not new, as I
write in the booklet accompanying my CD:

'Verbal transformations have also been produced in different ways, for
example by the psychologist Richard Warren' (p5).

Second, Warren did not 'discover' verbal transformation effects. In a paper
published by Warren in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 1983,
vol 31, pp 623, he describes such effects as having existed since the early
part of the century, quoting, among others, Titchener, 1915, and Skinner,
1936. Warren's description of Skinner's work reads (p626) '..a phonographic
record of a series of faint and indistinct vowels, such as ''ee'', ''oo'',
''ah'', ''uh'', repeated over and over. After several repetitions of these
meaningless patterns, meaning seemed to ''summate'', and listeners were
convinced that they heard words and phrases related to some personal aspect
of their lives'.....

Third, Warren implies that he discovered or 'reported' the 'high-low
illusion', but this is categorogally untrue. More generally, Warren writes
that verbal transformations occur best when the words are 'clearly
enunciated' (as in his recent note to this list) - which is the last way
one would describe the 'high-low' pattern. Warren's closest work is one in
which a word such as 'vrine' is repeated dichotocally, so that the word is
delivered to the two ears asynchronously. Warren concluded that the right
and left ears behave functionally equivalently in this situation. To quote
from the same paper: 'there were no such differences, and that changes were
functionally equivalent on the two sides. (p628)' There is a description of
this particular work in this paper, together with  sound demonstrations
accompanying the paper (on soft LP), in the JAES issue (which I

Fourth, the factors producing verbal transformations in the 'high-low'
pattern are different from those reported previously by others, in that
they depend on the perceptual fusion of sounds coming from the left and the
right, and in an asymmetrical way that is analogous to the octave illusion.
Indeed, as is evident in my booklet, I generated the 'high-low' illusion in
an attempt to obtain a version of the octave illusion using verbal stimuli.
To this end, I chose the words 'high' and low', not only for their meaning,
but also because their vowel spectra are promising ones for inducing an
effect such as the octave illusion. For the same reason, I also shaped the
time-varying amplitude envelopes for the words 'high' and 'low', so that
they would be reasonably similar to each other. And indeed, when listening
to this pattern, the sounds that are  heard as coming to the right ear do
indeed differ from those that are heard as coming to the left. This effect
is not as strong as the octave illusion, though its strength  varies across
subjects. It is certainly not the same as the effects reported by Warren,
since for the 'high-low' pattern many people report clear differences in
the sounds that are perceived as coming from the right earphone or
loudspeaker as opposed to the left one, and Warren has written that the
sound patterns he has worked with are not associated with a left-right

So in sum, the 'high-low' demo on the CD is particularly conducive to
obtaining verbal transformations (effects that have been around for the
best part of a century), though I did not originally generate it for this
purpose. I believe that  the alternating spectra employed here, and
generated in this particular fashion, are particularly conducive to
perceptual fusion, (just as this type of alternation gives rise to the
perceptual fusion that occurs with the octave illusion), and that this
fusion induces ambiguities that in turn cause listeners to perceive
transformations. And in contrast to the effects studied by Warren, the
fusion of the sounds coming from the left and right sides of space here
gives rise to the perception of speech sounds which are quite different
from those that are heard as coming from either channel when presented

Finally,since these sound demonstrations are readily available, I invite
readers to listen to Warren's demos, published in the JAES issue referenced
above, and to compare these with the 'high-low' demo on my CD.

I hope this clears up  any misconceptions that may have been generated by
Warren's note.

Diana Deutsch

Diana Deutsch
Department of Psychology
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093, USA

tel:       619-453-1558
fax:      619-453-4763
e-mail: ddeutsch@ucsd.edu