Our attentional resources are limited. We are only able to perceive an infinitesimal part of reality. If you are reading these lines, you are not feeling the ground beneath your feet or the background noise in your place. Our brain is constantly putting an attentional filter on our different senses to help us perceive, in order to act.
“The cocktail party effect” is an effect identified by psychoacoustics. It refers to your ability to direct your attention to follow a speech or a conversation in a noisy atmosphere, at a party or at a cocktail party, while remaining attentive to other sound signals, such as the statement of your first name by example. Your brain manages to isolate a signal in an ocean of noise. This kind of perceptual filter can sometimes let irrelevant information through or, on the contrary, block information that can be very useful to us.
Sometimes we even manage to reconstruct certain information in such a way that we hear something that does not exist. In these specific cases, we are talking about the experience of
ghost words, conceptualized by the Anglo-American psychologist Diana Deutsch. We never have access to all the information we perceive. Our perception is constantly correlated with filtering mechanisms that are constantly at work. But sometimes, our brain eliminates certain information, and this can have important consequences…
An original podcast produced by Albert Moukheiber and directed by Charlotte Roux.
Program Advisor: Camille Renard.