Wednesday, 21 August 2013

EVP - does ear pointing help?

Bsample8 spectrogramHow do you listen to EVP recordings? Traditionally, EVP enthusiasts have often used headphones to listen to their recordings. However, I've always found loudspeakers easier to use. I recently noticed that, without thinking about it, I always turn away from the loudspeakers, so pointing my right ear at them. It seems to make deciphering EVPs easier. So, is it just me or do others do this too?

Does pointing one ear at the speakers really make EVP easier to interpret? If so, why? My first guess was brain lateralization. In right-handed people 95% have left hemisphere dominance for language processing (see here). I tend to point my right ear at the speakers when listening to EVPs which would feed first into the left hemisphere of my brain. I found this article which mentions research that demonstrates that 'ear pointing' is actually helpful in noisy situations. So since EVPs tend to be difficult to make out, ear pointing might actually help. Incidentally, though the EVPs on this website were all recorded in stereo, I've only used one channel to produce all the clips so they are effectively in mono. So that should have no bearing the ear pointing thing.

The fact that ear pointing helps us decipher words from a noisy recording does not mean they must necessarily be actual human speech. Formant noise, which is non-speech sound that happens to contain frequency peaks in simple harmonic ratios, could also trigger the language part of the brain to hear apparent words, even though there were none present.

Here are three new EVPs to try the using the ear pointing thing. Here is the first: EVP1. If you trouble with that one, try this: EVP2. And, I think the best one, EVP3, which to me, at least, appears quite clear and obvious. Even so, you may need to listen repeatedly before any words become apparent. Once they do, I find that the words become stable - you hear the same ones on each repeat. Of course, some people may hear nothing but noise.

Anyway, I'd be interested in your feedback on these recordings. Please tell what you think each EVP says, if anything. Also, mention if pointing an ear towards the loudspeakers helps or not. And finally, please mention which ear, if either, helps the most. Please email here with your feedback. Thanks!

There is much more about EVP here, with a gallery here.

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