Cocktail party effect

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A crowded cocktail bar

When they are in a noisy environment, humans have the ability to focus their hearing onto one source.[1][2] This phenomenon is called cocktail party effect. It is named after the fact that a person attending a noisy cocktail party is able to focus their listening to the conversation they are doing, and disregard the other conversations.

It has been proposed that one's sensory memory subconsciously parses all stimuli and identifies discrete pieces of information by classifying them by salience.[3] This effect is what allows most people to "tune into" a single voice and "tune out" all others. This phenomenon is often described in terms of "selective attention" or "selective hearing". It may also describe a similar phenomenon that occurs when one may immediately detect words of importance coming from unattended stimuli, for example hearing one's name among a wide range of auditory input.[4][5]

An inability to segregate stimuli in this way is sometimes referred to as the cocktail party problem[6] or cocktail party deafness.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. Bronkhorst, Adelbert W. (2000). "The Cocktail Party Phenomenon: A Review on Speech Intelligibility in Multiple-Talker Conditions". Acta Acustica United with Acustica. 86: 117–128. Retrieved 2020-11-16.
  2. Shinn-Cunningham, Barbara G. (2008). "Object-based auditory and visual attention" (PDF). Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 12 (5): 182–186. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2008.02.003. PMC 2699558. PMID 18396091. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
  3. Narayan, Rajiv; Best, Virginia; Ozmeral, Erol; McClaine, Elizabeth; Dent, Micheal; Shinn-Cunningham, Barbara; Sen, Kamal (2007). "Cortical interference effects in the cocktail party problem". Nature Neuroscience. 10 (12): 1601–1607. doi:10.1038/nn2009. PMID 17994016. S2CID 7857806.
  4. Wood N, Cowan N (January 1995). "The cocktail party phenomenon revisited: how frequent are attention shifts to one's name in an irrelevant auditory channel?". J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 21 (1): 255–60. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.21.1.255. PMID 7876773.
  5. Conway AR, Cowan N, Bunting MF (June 2001). "The cocktail party phenomenon revisited: the importance of working memory capacity". Psychon Bull Rev. 8 (2): 331–5. doi:10.3758/BF03196169. PMID 11495122.
  6. Cherry, E. Colin (1953). "Some Experiments on the Recognition of Speech, with One and with Two Ears" (PDF). The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. 25 (5): 975–79. doi:10.1121/1.1907229. hdl:11858/00-001M-0000-002A-F750-3. ISSN 0001-4966.
  7. Pryse-Phillips, William (2003). Companion to Clinical Neurology (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-19-515938-1.