Neuroscientists discover the brain region that banishes babble.
Sometimes REALLY listening means ignoring just about everybody!
This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science
and on how our brains do battle with babble.
It's a mysterious feature of the human brain: The ability to distinguish a single voice from all other voices in a chattering crowd.
It even has a name: THE COCKTAIL PARTY EFFECT.
Researchers at Ruprecht-Karl University in Germany wanted to find out how, or at least where, this works in the human brain.
Subjects pressed a button when they heard a particular repeating tone among random tones at random frequencies. A beeping sound masked the signal even more.
The subjects were monitored by a device that measures the magnetic fields produced by electrical activity in the brain.
Not all of the subjects recognized the tone. But those who COULD showed increased activity in their brains' secondary audio cortex. It wasn't seen in folks who couldn't detect the tone.
Further study may show the effect of individual vocal pitch in the Cocktail Party Effect. I myself wonder if cologne has an effect--steering one AWAY from that speaker. But--grant money for my project. Still a little tight.