Investigating the “cocktail party” problem, picking out voices from the din:
Imagine for a minute. You’re in a coffeeshop, or a bar, or at a swanky cocktail party (whichever you prefer). There are people around, chatting nearby. But you’re speaking to the person directly across from you. Somehow, you can pick their voice out of the chatter and attend to what they are saying, even though the conversations around you might be just as loud or louder (especially in a bar!) than the one you’re interested in.
Turns out it’s all about how your brain manages attention. More than that, your brain can emphasize the pattern of the individual speaker over the chaos of many. Get the full neuroscience rundown at Scicurious’ blog.
I can’t pick out a voice in a crowd. I have to lip read when there is background noise.