An interesting verbal communication experiment

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Dinosaur, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    When Reagan was governor of California, some linguists created a recorded message very similar to the following
    Almost all politically savvy adults who heard this recording claimed to have heard Reagan in place of the cough & put the cough sound elsewhere in the sentence uttered.

    Note that the clue to the name of the governor was at the end of the sentence. ​

    The above experiment indicates that conversations are processed subconsciously & then presented to the conscious mind circa 5-10 seconds later.

    This is probably required in order to deal with regional accents & other phonetic problems in interpreting verbal communication.

    Experiments with musical sounds indicate that such processing does not take place. For example an incorrect or missing note in a melody is recognized as an error.
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Perhaps a kind of aural version of the brain filling in the visual blind spot of the eye. Stuff that can give direct realism or direct perception the heebie-jeebies, when part of what's manifesting in the senses is habitual anticipation, formulaic interpretation, or speculative fabrication rather than stemming solely from sensory input.

    Maybe the case when the expectation is that they're going to be listening to institutionalized folk-tunes, "play exactly as transcribed" sheet music or a familiar, unavoidably predictable recording (but actually altered during the second playing). But if conditioned beforehand that they could even be listening to improvisational variations of well-known melodies (i.e. the influence of jazz pervading the popular music genres), then surely not.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
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  5. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    The experimental evidence clearly indicates that musical lyrics & conversational speech is processed differently.

    In the Reagan recording, the clue to the name of the governor is at the end of the recording. The clue for the replacement of the recorded cough with the correct name occurs at the end of the recording. This occurs at a subconscious level, with the listener being unaware of the processing required.

    The above clearly indicates that conversation is pre-processed & later presented to the conscious mind.

    Errors in music & the associated lyrics are recognized as errors & not corrected by those familiar with the proper melody/lyrics. This indicates mental processing different from that used for conversations. Music & associated lyrics are processed in real time unlike the processing of conversation.
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I don't suppose there's any living evidence of either Reagan's comment or some record of the 'politically savvy adults' comments?

    It'd be interesting to follow up, but for my part, all I can do is just take your word for it. Which means I can neither speculate, nor draw any conclusions.
  8. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Wait a minute. Here you say lyrics; previously, you said musical notes.
    I have a problem understanding the lyrics of many, if not most, songs circa 1990-present, because they're usually overlaid with heavy tympnai, or mechanical sound effects.
    I don't "fill in" the missing words; I ignore them; assume they're all just more repetitions of the previous line. If there are many unintelligible words,
    I ignore the whole song. These are not vital communications.
    In opera, or lieder, I assume I'm not supposed to understand any of the lyrics, being sung in another language, and ignore them altogether.
    However, I do pick up false notes, misplaced flats and - in the singer's voice - incorrect pitch or phrasing.

    Music and language are processed differently, because they serve different functions.
    How do you test what parts of a song are processed in which way?
    How can you know - especially subconsciously - what the correct lyrics of a song should be?
    Of course, if it's a familiar song, you just sing along from memory, so that any errors or alterations would be jarring...
    but that should happen 0.1-0.5 second after hearing it, not a huge gap of 5-10 elephants.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  9. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    From DaveC426913 Post #4
    Is English your second language or do you scan Posts rapidly & sometimes misunderstand what is written? The first two lines of my Post #1 were
    My Post never described any remarks by Reagan.​

    The linguists' experiment was designed as an attempt to analyze how people process verbal conversations. The results strongly supported (I consider that is proved) the notion that conversational speech is processed subconsciously & presented to the consciousness mind 5-10 seconds later. The linguists reported the following results of the experiment.

    Most adults who knew Reagan was governor of California at the time of the experiment claimed to have heard Reagan's name in place of the coughing sound.​
  10. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    How do they explain the time-lapse?
  11. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    From Jeeves Post # 7
    The time lapse is calculated. The name Reagan is inserted into the beginning of the recorded sentence (replacing a cough sound), but the clue to which governor occurs at the end of the sentence circa 5-10 seconds after the cough sound.

    The computed time lapse is considered evidence (I consider it proof) that conversational speech is processed subconsciously & that a modified version is presented to the conscious mind with a real time delay.
  12. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Okay, so the delay is not in comprehension, but in the communication itself.
    Presumably the hearers are asked afterwards - when the session is over - what they heard. How long after? And in what form are they giving their answer?
    The timing is critical to the theory, because if there is even a 3-4 second gap between the clue (hearing "governor") and reporting what they heard, there was not only time to think consciously,
    but also to hold an internal debate. E.g: Oh, the governor. Reagan; they must have said Reagan. But I couldn't hear it. Not clearly, but sort of. Yeah, I must have heard it, after all.
    Time enough to override the facts with a revised memory of what one should have heard. Don't underestimate conscious self-deception.
    Of course if every subject unhesitatingly reported hearing Reagan, I'll accept the conclusion that it's subconscious processing.

    I still don't see how test for the processing of song lyrics.
  13. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    From Jeeves Post # 9
    Omissions, incorrect sequencing, incorrect lyrics/notes are viewed as errors by listeners familiar with a song. They are not corrected. Many errors in conversational speech are corrected, including the making of changes in the sequencing of the sounds (as mentioned in Post #1 to this Thread).

    The above strongly indicates that processing of musical input is different than processing of conversational input.

    Note that sequence of sounds for melody & song lyrics are critical compared to sequencing of conversational speech sounds.

    BTW: I suspect that linguists have done testing with which I am not familiar or which I have forgotten.

    I consider my memory of the experiments with the recorded remarks relating to Reagan to be accurate.

    I am not absolutely certain about the accuracy of my final remark
    I am pretty sure it was mentioned by the linguists who experimented with the recorded message relating to Reagan.

    I consider my remarks in Post #1 o be an accurate description of the experiment & the conclusions/opinions of expert linguists.
  14. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    How about if familiar words are obscured by drums or microphone feedback?
    You didn't have an omission in the speech; you had a noise that could be interpreted as sound. Silence can't be interpreted as sound.
    What about an unfamiliar song?
    Conversational speech is not previously learned by rote, as a song lyric is.
    I'm betting every hearer would mark as error, rather than auto-correct, omissions and changes in a recitation of the Oath of Allegiance.

    The exact text of conversation is always unfamiliar:
    even with intimates, whose vocabulary, cadence and style are familiar, the word order varies. With strangers, it's even less familiar.
    Thus, making sense of conversation relies heavily on the interpretation of sound, much as reading relies on the interpretation of letters.

    Obviously. But a song is both. I ask again:
    How do you separate the processing of the notes from the processing of the words for test purposes?

    I don't doubt it. I understand the phenomenon of auto-correction in spelling errors on a printed page....
    (That's why proofreading is so difficult. I know what's supposed to be in 'plenipotentiary', so I see those letter in that order, even if what's acutally there if pleinpitonetiray)
    (maybe not, but I'd miss the actually)

    I'm interested in the testing process and the collection of data for accurate results.
    I'm asking about the science, not questioning the verity.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
  15. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    From DaveC426913 Post #11
    As described in Post #1
    The above indicates subconscious pre-processing of conversational speech.

    It is well known that singer mistakes in lyrics or melody of familiar songs are recognized as mistakes. I am not sure that lyrics/notes obscured by a cough sound are heard corrected at the conscious mind level.

    My guess is that correct lyrics/notes are not inserted subconsciously due to evidence indicating musical sound data is processed in real time at the conscious level.
  16. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Mea Culpa: Jeeves was the author of Post #11.
  17. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    They're still different experiments.

    The speech is retroactively corrected to what the hearer thinks the speaker probably said, must have said, since that was the appropriate word.
    To someone who does not know that Reagan is a governor, a cough is just a cough.
    When one has learned a sequence of words by rote, such as a limerick, loyalty oath or song lyric, an omission or incorrect sequence is jarring,
    but a noise that obscures a word (such as a cough) would be auto-corrected with the appropriate word, in the exact same way as in speech.
    However, if the hearer doesn't know the right words, a noise is just a noise.

    Neither covers incorrect musical notes.
  18. The God Valued Senior Member

    1. Those who got the hint at the end, would replace the coughing sound by Reagan.

    2. Those who could not underStand the hint, would be clueless about the coughing sound.

    The idea is, the need to understand the communication, to decipher the meaning with certain background knowledge about what is being told. But if the speaker had used some explicit incorrect name (Other than Reagan or coughing) then that would have been recorded as error to those who knew about it.

    In case of musical notes, there is no need for replacement or hint. It's either in or out and thus to those who know about it, it will be registered as an error.
  19. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    That explains neither the difference between how we perceive verbal and musical input, nor the mechanism.
    So what's the point of the experiment? What new information does it impart?
  20. The God Valued Senior Member

    Mess up the sllepnig of any konwn word keeping the first and last alphabet intact and your brain will read it porprely.

    I think it is more like this, any coughing or noise will be accounted for in the right context if the listener is aware of the facts.
  21. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Yes, I covered that in Post #11. My problem in this study is methodology: the comparison of similar mental processes should be carried out and compared consistently in order to have any meaning.

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