Lip-readers can hear the words they read on the lips of people, says a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society.
The minds of lip-readers seem to be more enhanced in certain aspects than others’. Not only can they ‘hear’ the words they read from people’s lips, but they also display neural activity in their brain’s auditory cortex if they are increasingly better at lip-reading.
Lip-reading has been linked with the activation of auditory brain areas in the past. However, the methodologies used in these experiments are limited, say the researchers of the new study. Instead of concentrating on only simple sentences or words, they analysed lip-reading in a more natural setting, explains study coauthor, Satu Saalasti from Finland’s Aalto University.
The participants were made to read the lips of an individual speaking Finnish – this lasted for 8 minutes. All of them did the lip-reading as mostly everyone can lip-read to some extent, according to Saalasti.
The findings show that those who were best at lip-reading also had brain activity in their auditory cortex that was comparable to what happens when one hears a story being spoken out loud. This implies that brain areas involved in linguistics do not make the distinction between speech that is lip-read, read, or heard.
The researchers, therefore, concluded that the better one is at lip-reading, the greater will be one’s ability to ‘hear’ the words one is lip-reading.