Putting the face to the voice: Matching identity across modality



Publication Details

Kamachi, M, Hill, HC, Lander, K & Vatikiotis-Bateson, E, Putting the face to the voice: Matching identity across modality, Current Biology, 13, 2003, p 1709-1714.


Speech perception provides compelling examples of a strong link between auditory and visual modalities [1, 2]. This link originates in the mechanics of speech production, which, in shaping the vocal tract, determine the movement of the face as well as the sound of the voice [3, 4]. In this paper, we present evidence that equivalent information about identity is available cross-modally from both the face and voice. Using a delayed matching to sample task, XAB, we show that people can match the video of an unfamiliar face, X, to an unfamiliar voice, A or B, and vice versa, but only when stimuli are moving and are played forward. The critical role of time-varying information is underlined by the ability to match faces to voices containing only the coarse spatial and temporal information provided by sine wave speech [5]. The effect of varying sentence content across modalities was small, showing that identity-specific information is not closely tied to particular utterances. We conclude that the physical constraints linking faces to voices result in bimodally available dynamic information, not only about what is being said, but also about who is saying it.

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