Research Repository

See what's under the surface

The threshold for the McGurk effect in audio-visual noise decreases with development

Hirst, Rebecca J.; Stacey, Jemaine E.; Cragg, Lucy; Stacey, Paula C.; Allen, Harriet A.


Rebecca J. Hirst

Jemaine E. Stacey

Lucy Cragg

Paula C. Stacey

Harriet A. Allen


Across development, vision increasingly influences audio-visual perception. This is evidenced in illusions such as the McGurk effect, in which a seen mouth movement changes the perceived sound. The current paper assessed the effects of manipulating the clarity of the heard and seen signal upon the McGurk effect in children aged 3–6 (n = 29), 7–9 (n = 32) and 10–12 (n = 29) years, and adults aged 20–35 years (n = 32). Auditory noise increased, and visual blur decreased, the likelihood of vision changing auditory perception. Based upon a proposed developmental shift from auditory to visual dominance we predicted that younger children would be less susceptible to McGurk responses, and that adults would continue to be influenced by vision in higher levels of visual noise and with less auditory noise. Susceptibility to the McGurk effect was higher in adults compared with 3–6-year-olds and 7–9-year-olds but not 10–12-year-olds. Younger children required more auditory noise, and less visual noise, than adults to induce McGurk responses (i.e. adults and older children were more easily influenced by vision). Reduced susceptibility in childhood supports the theory that sensory dominance shifts across development and reaches adult-like levels by 10 years of age.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2018
Journal Scientific Reports
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Article Number 12372
Keywords Multidisciplinary
Publisher URL


The threshold for the McGurk effect (1.7 Mb)

VoR - Version of Record

Downloadable Citations