Study shows audio cues can help us to recognize objects more quickly, but also improve our visual perception . Lead author Jamal R.
Washington, D.C., December 8, : A new study shows that audio cues can not only enable us to recognize objects but also change our visual perception.The paper was published in the journal Psychological Science.It shows that these kinds of audio cues can not only help us to recognize objects more quickly, but also improve our visual perception.In an interview, lead author Jamal R. Williams (University of California, San Diego), said that although this intelligence helps us to process information faster, it can also lead us astray when what we are hearing contrasts with what we expect to see, she said.In their first experiment, Williams and colleagues provided 40 participants with figures depicting two objects at different stages of morphing into one another, such as a bird turning into a plane.Participants were then asked to recall which phase of the object morph they had been shown.They used a sliding scale to show what they remembered, making the object appear more bird-like or more plane-like in the above example.Participants were able to make their object-morph selection faster when they heard related (versus unrelated) sounds and to shift their object-morph selection to more closely match the related sounds they heard.When sounds are related to relevant visual characteristics, those visual characteristics are prioritized and processed faster than when sounds are unrelated to the visual characteristics.Therefore, Williams explained, if you heard the sound of a birdsong, anything bird-like is given priority access to visual perception. In a third experiment, which included 40 participants, Williams and colleagues played the sounds until the object morphs were shown, but this time they played the sounds either while the object morph was on screen or while participants were making their object-morph selection.As in the first experiment, audio input was shown to increase participants' speed and accuracy as the object morph was shown, but this time it had no effect.The purpose of this study was to see how audio signals can influence visual perception by encouraging people to pay more attention to particular objects.This step was also found to have no effect on participant object-morph selections, according to the researchers.These results show that sounds alter vision only when audio and visual input are performed simultaneously, but that in reality, it is a very computationally intensive process. Williams and colleagues hope to expand on these findings by investigating how sounds can influence our ability to locate objects, how visual input can influence our perception of sounds, and whether audiovisual integration is a natural or learned skill.