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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 38

Divided Attention

On the everyday enigma of selective hearing.
Words by Daphnée Denis. Photograph by Kata Geibl.

It’s a phenomenon that has long fascinated the scientific community: When in a noisy, crowded room, a person will still prick up their ears if their name is mentioned. Equally, two guests can isolate what the other says from the surrounding cacophony. They are able to engage in a private conversation without speaking louder than those around them. This is known as the “cocktail party effect, ” but it was air traffic controllers, not socialites, who led to its study


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-Eight

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