MadSci Network: Neuroscience

Re: What are the relative strengths of visual and auditory stimuli to humans?

Date: Mon Nov 16 08:34:24 1998
Posted By: Lori Holt, Graduate (Ph.D.) Student, Psychology, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
Area of science: Neuroscience
ID: 910363247.Ns


Yes, there do seem to be differences in the relative strengths of visual 
and auditory stimuli.

One area where this is evident is in ventriloquism. The auditory stimuli 
(the ventriloquist's speech) would lead an observer to determine that the 
sound is coming from the ventriloquist. However, the visual information 
(the mouth and body movements of the puppet) typically "win" over the 
auditory information. The result is a strong perception that the puppet is 

There have been a number of scientific studies on the "ventriloquist 
effect". Many of them are summarized in this book:

Advances in psychological science, Vol. 2: Biological and cognitive 
aspects.         Sabourin, Craik, et-al. (1998). Psychology Press/Erlbaum.

One interesting finding is that for spatial tasks (where a subject 
indicates where a stimulus is coming from) vision tends to win. However, 
audition is more likely to win when the task is more closely related to 
temporal (timing) information.

If you have more questions, feel free to email me directly.

Lori Holt

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