cocktail parties and hearing better

By December 12, 2009Church

While reading my book about the brain, I came across this quote in the “how the brain hears” section:

“Cocktail party: A gathering held to enable forty people to talk about themselves at the same time.  The man who remains after the liquor is gone is the host” (Fred Allen).

The quote was in a tip section about how to hear better on your phone when you’re in a noisy environment.  The tip: cover the mouthpiece while listening.  The brain can filter out background noise, allowing us to focus on a single voice — even in a noisy environment.  Not covering the mouthpiece allows background noises and voices to pass through the microphone and return through the ear piece (something called “Full Duplex“, where both parties can speak naturally and be heard at the same time).  This makes it more difficult for the brain to distinguish the voice that needs to be heard.

So, the quote didn’t exactly fit but I thought it was funny.