Cocktail Party Effect

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We have all been in the situation where we have heard our name from across the room, and immediately tried to decipher the context in which it was used. The human brain's abilities are magnificent. What gives us this ability? Scientists say that this ability comes from binaural processing. Because there is a time difference in which the sound makes it to both ears, the brain has the ability to differentiate where the sound is coming from. An experiment was done on ferrets to see the differences in the way the sounds that they heard were perceived. Although they can not be used as an exact replica for the way human brains work, the studies on the animal give us a small idea as to how the human brain develops these abilities over time. The difference between what the infant ferrets heard and what the adults heard was due to the sizes, and lengths between their ears. This though, could also be attributed to the maturity of the brain, or the complexity of the interaction between the cells that process sounds, as they may still be underdeveloped. There is no doubt though, that humans have the ability to binaurally process information. Scientists refer to this ability as the cocktail party effect. Using our brains to decide which conversations we are interested in tuning into, while ignoring others. The effect was first defined Colin Cherry in 1953. He suggested that there was a filter that prevents overloading memory. This hypothesis may not be entirely correct because humans do have the ability to hear their names from across the room, and focus in on what is being said. As defined in an article by science daily, the cocktail party effect is "how our brains develop the ability to pinpoint and focus on particular sounds among a background of noise." The human brain is amazingly complex thing, and many of it's abilities can often be taken for granted.

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This page contains a single entry by udstu002 published on October 2, 2011 10:37 AM.

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