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Can The Voices In Your Head Be Explained By Auditory Pareidolia?

todayJanuary 27, 2024 23

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Auditory Pareidolia

Do you ever hear voices or music, when you’re sitting by yourself in an otherwise quiet space? Like, when there’s an aircon on, that has a slight buzz to it, or maybe you have a fishtank in your room and the filter has a little hum to it?

I don’t. I think my brain is just too tired to allow that to happen, most of the time, but it is something that happens to a lot of people.

Some describe it as hearing music, singing, instruments. They can’t necessarily hear the melody, or the words being sung, but they can make out that they are hearing music.

In some cases, people can even hear so-called hidden messages in music, when it is played in reverse, or at a higher or lower speed.

Sounds a little creepy right?

Well, it’s a natural phenomenon that happens to a lot of people, and it’s called Auditory Pareidolia. Some people even experience Visual Pareidolia, which is when you see faces in patterns, or clouds, or even paint splatters. (Funny… I thought that was called imagination)

Interestingly enough, Visual Pareidolia was first observed as long ago as during the days of Leonardo Da Vinci. And it basically boils down to the fact that our brain can, and mostly does, create meaning from complete randomness, and yes, it is often, or mostly influenced by our own life experiences. 

In other words, and especially in the case of Auditory Pareidolia, it’s when your brain tries to come up with its best guess as to what it is seeing or hearing.

With monotonous background sounds, like a buzzing aircon, it’s hard for your brain to find a good fit, so it tries to fit the closest pattern it already has in its memory bank, to what you’re hearing.

Fascinating, isn’t it?

Now, with this in mind. Do YOU hear voices or music when you’re in an otherwise quiet room?

Written by: Anne Mans

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