Why does the speech in BrainHQ sound so weird? Why does it sometimes sound like it’s underwater?
BrainHQ exercises are designed to make information processing in the brain faster and more accurate.
With visual exercises, like Hawk Eye, at first the birds are presented on the screen for a long time, and the contrast between the brightly colored birds and the blue sky is high. This gives the brain a lot of time to see the stimuli, and they “pop out” from the background. This drives a strong response in the brain, helping drive brain plasticity. As Hawk Eye gets more challenging, the time that the birds are shown gets shorter and shorter, meaning that the brain has to get faster and faster to keep up. The birds and the background become more similar, making the exercise more like a real-world visual scene, which is designed to help the improvements from the exercise transfer to real-world performance.
With auditory exercises that use speech, we take a similar approach - but with sound. Human speech is composed of many very fast components. For example, the difference between a “ba” sound and a “pa” sound is just a brief gap of a few tens of milliseconds. So we process the speech sounds in BrainHQ with a digital algorithm that actually stretches the speech sounds out, to make them slower, and emphasizes the loudest parts. This drives a strong response in the brain (like the bright, slow birds on the blue background), helping drive brain plasticity.
As the auditory exercises that use speech get more challenging, we remove that stretching and emphasis, and then actually compress the speech to make it faster than normal - challenging the brain to speed up. This is designed to help the improvements from these exercises transfer to real listening situations - where you might be listening to someone speak quickly, and need to process and remember what they say.
A common misconception is that the processed speech is trying to make speech more intelligible. That’s not what we’re trying to do. You might even find the processed speech more difficult to understand than normal speech. The goal of the speech processing is to drive brain plasticity.
The exercises that use speech processing are: