Of all the many ways that we can misunderstand one another, how about the McGurk effect? This is what happens when a person’s voice says one thing but the mouth says another. As Uri Hassan of the University of Chicago’s Human Neuroscience Laboratory says –
“As an example, what would happen if a person’s voice says ‘pa,’ but the person’s lips mouth the word ‘ka”‘ One would think you might hear ‘pa’ because that is what was said. But in fact, with the conflicting verbal and visual signals, the brain is far more likely to hear ‘ta,’ an entirely new sound.”
So while we recognize words from the sounds that we hear, there is a more abstract process occurring in which the brain interprets speech using both sight and sounds.
Hassan’s study demonstrates that the Broca’s area of the brain is the region that is responsible for this type of abstract speech processing. This speech production center of the ventroposterior region of the frontal lobe has long been known but this study adds a new dimension to that understanding.
From another perspective, it offers additional insight into why we so commonly misunderstand one another in our casual everyday conversations, evidencing yet again the complexity underlying our communications.