The Art and Science of Learning Craft  


Cocktail Party Effect 1

Animals have a remarkable ability to pick out and focus on specific sounds in a sea of noise. We too posses the power to some extant which can be tapped in our learning.

We can hear a friend calling, from the other end of the room, where a party is going on, in the midst of a cacophony of voices. Despite the callers voice is less louder than the other sounds. This is known as the “Cocktail Party Effect


The effect was first described (and named) by Cherry in 1953, while studying the problem faced by the Air traffic controllers.

At that time, controllers received messages from pilots over loudspeakers in the control tower. Hearing the intermixed voices of many pilots over a single loudspeaker made the controller's task very difficult.
Cherry conducted experiments in which subjects were asked to listen to two different messages from a single loudspeaker at the same time and try to separate them.

His work reveals that our ability to separate sounds from background noise is based on the characteristics of the sounds. Such as the gender of the speaker, the direction from which the sound is coming, the pitch, or the speaking speed.
In the 1950's, Broadbent conducted dichotic listening experiments.

Subjects were asked to hear and separate different speech signals presented to each ear simultaneously, using headphones.

Broadbent suggested that "our mind can be conceived as a radio receiving many channels at once.

The brain separates incoming sound into channels based on physical characteristics (e.g. perceived location), and submits only certain sub signals, for semantic analysis (deciphering meaning). In other words, there exists a type of Audio filter in our brain that selects which channel we should pay attention to from the many other sounds perceived.

This is called Broadbent's filter theory.

In an experiment where three pairs of different digits are presented simultaneously, three digits in one ear and three in the other.

Thus, if 496 were presented to one ear and 852 to the other,

The recall would be 496, 852 rather than 48, 95, 62. Most participants recalled the digits ear by ear, rather than pair by pair.

We do have these filters. The use of a filter lies in its ability to separate unwanted things from mixture to get the things we need.

An eagle flying high above finds a small lizard crawling on earth cause of these filters and more so because its need to find its prey. A mother always hears her kid calling even in the midst of cacophony of voices and sounds for she is interested in it.

we observe that while shifting & cleaning rice or flour we always can instantly locate a unmoving dead worm though it is in the same color and size of the rice grain.

To use these filters, first we need to ...

                                                                                          ocktail party Effect 2