We’ve all done it — listened in on another conversation while talking to someone else. How can we do that? How can we focus our listening abilities on a far away conversation while “turning off” the ability to listen to the conversation that’s right in front of us?
This unique listening ability is called selective listening and most people can do it. It’s our ability to tune out one conversation and have our brains hone in on another. And despite this fairly common phenomenon, neuroscientists still have little idea of how we do it.
It seems to come down to understanding the neural pathways and circuits that underlie our attention skills. In understanding simple attention skills like how we can selectively listen, neuroscientists believe it could also help in our understanding of disorders like autism, which can be seen as largely a disorder of neural circuits according to Tony Zador, Professor of Biology and the Chairman of Neuroscience at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory:
“So we’re very optimistic that by understanding how autism affects these long range connections and how those long range connections in turn affect attention that we’ll gain some insight into what is going on in humans with autism.”
Read the full article and watch the video: The Neuroscience of Cocktail Party Conversation
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Sep 2010
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2010). Listening in On Another Conversation. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 18, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/09/25/listening-in-on-another-conversation/