Simply Science: The sound of your own voice

5:48 PM, May 9, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - As reporters and anchors we here at KARE11, hear the sound of our own voices every day. But if you only hear yourself once in a while you might think "is that what I really sound like?" The answer is yes it is.

While watching a home movie, the sound of your voice travels from the speakers to your inner ear through the air. 

"It vibrates the bones in the inner ear and that vibrate a structure in your inner ear that has fluid in it, it's called the cochlea and that's how regular air conduction hearing happens. But look we've got all this bone around here too and when we're speaking we're making this bone vibrate as well. And that can make the fluid in the cochlea vibrate too. And that vibration sounds just a little bit different than the vibration through the air does," explains Ben Munson, faculty at the University of Minnesota's Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Department.


What it comes down to is that your brain is really good at detecting small changes. And just like you sound different to yourself, you look different as well. Mainly because you're used to looking in a mirror.

"Mirrors flip things left-right, so a photograph will look flipped left/right compared to what you're used to seeing in the mirror," says University of Minnesota Psychologist Dr. Stephen Engel.

Although the difference is slight, the left side of your face is not an exact replica of the right side.

Engel further explains, "We have an internal model of what we look like in the mirror and when we see something different than that it gets exaggerated. So we're good at detecting these changes and that can make us look even more different than we would otherwise."

It's just our eyes and ears playing tricks on us.


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