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cocktail party phenomenon


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A phenomenon of selective attention in speech perception that enables a listener to attend to one among several equally loud conversations occurring simultaneously, factors such as voice quality and directional cues facilitating the task. Conversations recorded on audiotape under similar circumstances are very much harder to understand. The term was introduced in 1957 by the British telecommunications engineer Colin Cherry (1914–79). See also attenuation theory, bottleneck theory, filter theory, selective attention.


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