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It's easier to hear familiar faces

13th April 2007

Those who are hard of hearing may be better able to understand people whose faces they are familiar with, new research has found.

In a paper by psychology professor Lawrence D Rosenblum, entitled, 'Lip-read me now, hear me better later', people's ability to lip read was tested.

Some sixty participants with no lip-reading experience were asked to lip-read from a silent video.

They were then asked to listen to a video of speech against a backdrop of noise, identifying as many words as they could.

The same speaker was used in both experiments for half the group, while the remaining half had a new speaker for the noise test.

It was found that those who had the same person talking for both tests were better able to identify words in the second test.

Scientists believe this suggests we become familiar with the speaking characteristics of people we know.

Thus, listeners can convert this knowledge to lip-reading.

Professor Rosenblum expects the discovery to implications for those with hearing impairments and brain lesions.