Mondegreens and Soramimi as a method to induce misperceptions of speech content--influence of familiarity, wittiness, and language competence

PloS One
Claudia BeckThomas Ethofer


Expectations and prior knowledge can strongly influence our perception. In vision research, such top-down modulation of perceptual processing has been extensively studied using ambiguous stimuli, such as reversible figures. Here, we propose a novel method to address this issue in the auditory modality during speech perception by means of Mondgreens and Soramimi which represent song lyrics with the potential for misperception within one or across two languages, respectively. We demonstrate that such phenomena can be induced by visual presentation of the alternative percept and occur with a sufficient probability to exploit them in neuroscientific experiments. Song familiarity did not influence the occurrence of such altered perception indicating that this tool can be employed irrespective of the participants' knowledge of music. On the other hand, previous knowledge of the alternative percept had a strong impact on the strength of altered perception which is in line with frequent reports that these phenomena can have long-lasting effects. Finally, we demonstrate that the strength of changes in perception correlated with the extent to which they were experienced as amusing as well as the vocabulary of the participants as source o...Continue Reading


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