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Phantom words

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The brain is constantly attempting to find meaning in things, even where there is no meaning. This can often lead us to experience illusions. Just as, when we look into a cloudy sky, we may see strange faces and figures, so when presented with ambiguous sounds, we may hear words and phrases that are not really there.

The phantom words illusions contain sequences of repeating words and phrases that arise simultaneously from different regions of space. These illusions should be heard through stereo loudspeakers that are placed in front of you, with one to your left and the other to your right. The words coming from the different spatial locations are offset from each other in time. As a result, listeners are given a palette of sounds from which to choose, and so can create in their minds many different combinations of sounds. After continuous exposure to these repeating words, listeners begin to 'hear' words and phrases that are not really there. These 'phantom words' are generated by the brain in an attempt to extract meaning from the chaos of sound that is presented.

Since the illusions develop with repetition, you need to listen to long segments in order to experience them fully.  I suggest having a pen and paper in front of you, so that you can jot down the words and phrases that you hear. Most likely they will suddenly appear to change into different words and phrases as you continue listening. Whenever this happens, jot down the new ones that you hear.


Below are just a few of the words and phrases that people have heard when listening to this example in a good listening space:

window, welcome, love me, run away, no brain, rainbow, raincoat, bueno, nombre, when oh when, mango, window pane, Broadway, Reno, melting, Rogaine 


Phantom words example 


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Cool.......My wife and I both heard different sets of words.
What was really something was my dogs reaction...
he was on my wifes lap across the table when I put it on
the first time.....he nearly jumped across the table to
get to the sound.....maybe he was hearing treat....eusa_think.gif 

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The first 'word' I heard was "jumping" but I was also very aware of the point when my brain suggested the word and that was the transition from mere sound into recognizable word form. However 'jumping' morphed into 'no way' and remained the same until the end. I purposely did not look at the word list others were said to have experienced to refrain from their influence.


Interesting stuff.

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