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An interesting mental/aural phenomenon

Skeptic Bob

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I went camping this weekend with my son and his Cub Scout Troop. There were about 80 people altogether camping in our little area and sharing a fire. Adults outnumber the kids.

I had hiked 6 miles during a land navigation contest with my son’s den and was exhausted so I went to our tent early. It was only about 7:00 pm so most of the camp is awake and talking.

And I hear them all talking. Well, sort of. You know what the sound of large groups of talking people sound like. Indistinctive and you don’t make out any specific words unless, unless you pay attention for some reason.

So I have that indistinctive group chatter going on in the back ground. But anytime my son’s name was mentioned in conversation I heard it. But I didn’t only hear his name, I also heard several words BEFORE his name. Often the whole sentence.

So I wonder what is going on here. Is my subconscious understanding and buffering EVERY conversation going on in the background so it can then forward along what is relevant?

In retrospect, I have noticed this phenomenon throughout my life but never gave it any thought.

Before you ask, NO, I wasn’t stoned. I was completely sober, though I could understand your skepticism. :)

So two questions:

1. Have you noticed this phenomenon before?
2. Do you agree with my assessment of what is going on or do you have a different explanation?
 

ecofarm

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I went camping this weekend with my son and his Cub Scout Troop. There were about 80 people altogether camping in our little area and sharing a fire. Adults outnumber the kids.

I had hiked 6 miles during a land navigation contest with my son’s den and was exhausted so I went to our tent early. It was only about 7:00 pm so most of the camp is awake and talking.

And I hear them all talking. Well, sort of. You know what the sound of large groups of talking people sound like. Indistinctive and you don’t make out any specific words unless, unless you pay attention for some reason.

So I have that indistinctive group chatter going on in the back ground. But anytime my son’s name was mentioned in conversation I heard it. But I didn’t only hear his name, I also heard several words BEFORE his name. Often the whole sentence.

So I wonder what is going on here. Is my subconscious understanding and buffering EVERY conversation going on in the background so it can then forward along what is relevant?

In retrospect, I have noticed this phenomenon throughout my life but never gave it any thought.

Before you ask, NO, I wasn’t stoned. I was completely sober, though I could understand your skepticism. :)

So two questions:

1. Have you noticed this phenomenon before?
2. Do you agree with my assessment of what is going on or do you have a different explanation?

I think we do the same regarding foreign languages in which we understand a few words.

When I hear Spanish, sometimes words I recognize become sentences by piecing together other semi familiar words or tone. That happened with Swedish and Swahili as well.
 

Rexedgar

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I have no experience to compare this to; that being said, given that you were accompanying your son’s troop/pack, I would say that your senses were on heightened alert for catch words such as your son’s name. Question; was your son mentioned in a positive manner?
 

tecoyah

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It is likely your mind hears and stores much information which is ignored unless called upon. Your sons name was a keyword instigating recall.

Think of it as subconscious selective memory.
 

JANFU

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I went camping this weekend with my son and his Cub Scout Troop. There were about 80 people altogether camping in our little area and sharing a fire. Adults outnumber the kids.

I had hiked 6 miles during a land navigation contest with my son’s den and was exhausted so I went to our tent early. It was only about 7:00 pm so most of the camp is awake and talking.

And I hear them all talking. Well, sort of. You know what the sound of large groups of talking people sound like. Indistinctive and you don’t make out any specific words unless, unless you pay attention for some reason.

So I have that indistinctive group chatter going on in the back ground. But anytime my son’s name was mentioned in conversation I heard it. But I didn’t only hear his name, I also heard several words BEFORE his name. Often the whole sentence.

So I wonder what is going on here. Is my subconscious understanding and buffering EVERY conversation going on in the background so it can then forward along what is relevant?

In retrospect, I have noticed this phenomenon throughout my life but never gave it any thought.

Before you ask, NO, I wasn’t stoned. I was completely sober, though I could understand your skepticism. :)

So two questions:

1. Have you noticed this phenomenon before?
2. Do you agree with my assessment of what is going on or do you have a different explanation?

Heavy bet on your sub conscious. Could be protecting family, your SC will/could cause you to sleep light enough to stay tuned in to the environment.
As to the SC it filters any and all sensory input in different ways for different people, a repository of all experiences, again based upon environment and acts upon those and our own primal instincts like first or flight..

Question- were you concerned about what they might say about your son?
Children can be vicious, they grow up and some parents take it to another level of vicious.

Did you eventually go to sleep or get up?
 

Harshaw

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So I wonder what is going on here. Is my subconscious understanding and buffering EVERY conversation going on in the background so it can then forward along what is relevant?

Pretty much, yeah.
 

Skeptic Bob

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I have no experience to compare this to; that being said, given that you were accompanying your son’s troop/pack, I would say that your senses were on heightened alert for catch words such as your son’s name. Question; was your son mentioned in a positive manner?

A mix. Talking about who likes s’mores more. About moving fire wood. And him being told to stop sword fighting with the fire wood.
 

Skeptic Bob

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Heavy bet on your sub conscious. Could be protecting family, your SC will/could cause you to sleep light enough to stay tuned in to the environment.
As to the SC it filters any and all sensory input in different ways for different people, a repository of all experiences, again based upon environment and acts upon those and our own primal instincts like first or flight..

Question- were you concerned about what they might say about your son?
Children can be vicious, they grow up and some parents take it to another level of vicious.

Did you eventually go to sleep or get up?

Nah, he seems to hold his own on bullying. I was probably most concerned for safety (it is night in the woods with a big fire and a bunch of boys all cracked up on s’mores. :)
 

Skeptic Bob

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I think we do the same regarding foreign languages in which we understand a few words.

When I hear Spanish, sometimes words I recognize become sentences by piecing together other semi familiar words or tone. That happened with Swedish and Swahili as well.

It is likely your mind hears and stores much information which is ignored unless called upon. Your sons name was a keyword instigating recall.

Think of it as subconscious selective memory.

Heavy bet on your sub conscious. Could be protecting family, your SC will/could cause you to sleep light enough to stay tuned in to the environment.
As to the SC it filters any and all sensory input in different ways for different people, a repository of all experiences, again based upon environment and acts upon those and our own primal instincts like first or flight..

Question- were you concerned about what they might say about your son?
Children can be vicious, they grow up and some parents take it to another level of vicious.

Did you eventually go to sleep or get up?

Pretty much, yeah.

That means my subconscious...is a GENIUS!

;)

Seriously, how awesome would it be if we could control that process at will?
 

Harshaw

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I went camping this weekend with my son and his Cub Scout Troop. There were about 80 people altogether camping in our little area and sharing a fire. Adults outnumber the kids.

I had hiked 6 miles during a land navigation contest with my son’s den and was exhausted so I went to our tent early. It was only about 7:00 pm so most of the camp is awake and talking.

And I hear them all talking. Well, sort of. You know what the sound of large groups of talking people sound like. Indistinctive and you don’t make out any specific words unless, unless you pay attention for some reason.

So I have that indistinctive group chatter going on in the back ground. But anytime my son’s name was mentioned in conversation I heard it. But I didn’t only hear his name, I also heard several words BEFORE his name. Often the whole sentence.

So I wonder what is going on here. Is my subconscious understanding and buffering EVERY conversation going on in the background so it can then forward along what is relevant?

In retrospect, I have noticed this phenomenon throughout my life but never gave it any thought.

Before you ask, NO, I wasn’t stoned. I was completely sober, though I could understand your skepticism. :)

So two questions:

1. Have you noticed this phenomenon before?
2. Do you agree with my assessment of what is going on or do you have a different explanation?

Similar to this, I once got into a car accident, and I remember the exact word of the song that was playing when the power cut out. But my memory of it is that the music got louder just before the accident, even though it certainly didn't.
 

Taylor

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Is my subconscious understanding and buffering EVERY conversation going on in the background so it can then forward along what is relevant?
Yes, there is a buffer. Psychologists call it echoic memory and it lasts just a few seconds, but probably long enough for you to "replay" if your son's name focuses your attention. Lots of us experienced this in school - you're daydreaming, not really listening, but when your name is called, you can sometimes "replay" the question you were asked. People sometimes even vocalize it.

There is also a visual analog called iconic memory, where you can quickly glance at something and look away, but still sort of "see" it if you maintain your focus.
 

Mr Person

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I went camping this weekend with my son and his Cub Scout Troop. There were about 80 people altogether camping in our little area and sharing a fire. Adults outnumber the kids.

I had hiked 6 miles during a land navigation contest with my son’s den and was exhausted so I went to our tent early. It was only about 7:00 pm so most of the camp is awake and talking.

And I hear them all talking. Well, sort of. You know what the sound of large groups of talking people sound like. Indistinctive and you don’t make out any specific words unless, unless you pay attention for some reason.

So I have that indistinctive group chatter going on in the back ground. But anytime my son’s name was mentioned in conversation I heard it. But I didn’t only hear his name, I also heard several words BEFORE his name. Often the whole sentence.

So I wonder what is going on here. Is my subconscious understanding and buffering EVERY conversation going on in the background so it can then forward along what is relevant?

In retrospect, I have noticed this phenomenon throughout my life but never gave it any thought.

Before you ask, NO, I wasn’t stoned. I was completely sober, though I could understand your skepticism. :)

So two questions:

1. Have you noticed this phenomenon before?
2. Do you agree with my assessment of what is going on or do you have a different explanation?

The part of your mind that you are conscious of - the self-consciousness - is only a tiny window that peers in on little sections of the totality of what the rest you is doing. I think the answer is that, yes, the full 'you' really is listening to all those separate conversations, or at least it is to the extent the sound waves aren't canceling out. But whatever your ears pick up, you probably are processing. You just aren't remembering it or made conscious of it because you couldn't possibly be simultaneously conscious of all those conversations simultaneously. You also know that you aren't interested in all those conversations, so you don't bring it to your (self-conscious) attention. To use your word, it's all being buffered...
 

Harshaw

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I went camping this weekend with my son and his Cub Scout Troop. There were about 80 people altogether camping in our little area and sharing a fire. Adults outnumber the kids.

I had hiked 6 miles during a land navigation contest with my son’s den and was exhausted so I went to our tent early. It was only about 7:00 pm so most of the camp is awake and talking.

And I hear them all talking. Well, sort of. You know what the sound of large groups of talking people sound like. Indistinctive and you don’t make out any specific words unless, unless you pay attention for some reason.

So I have that indistinctive group chatter going on in the back ground. But anytime my son’s name was mentioned in conversation I heard it. But I didn’t only hear his name, I also heard several words BEFORE his name. Often the whole sentence.

So I wonder what is going on here. Is my subconscious understanding and buffering EVERY conversation going on in the background so it can then forward along what is relevant?

In retrospect, I have noticed this phenomenon throughout my life but never gave it any thought.

Before you ask, NO, I wasn’t stoned. I was completely sober, though I could understand your skepticism. :)

So two questions:

1. Have you noticed this phenomenon before?
2. Do you agree with my assessment of what is going on or do you have a different explanation?

You might be interested in "Brain Games" on Netflix. It explores a lot of this kind of stuff.
 

Harshaw

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Lutherf

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I went camping this weekend with my son and his Cub Scout Troop. There were about 80 people altogether camping in our little area and sharing a fire. Adults outnumber the kids.

I had hiked 6 miles during a land navigation contest with my son’s den and was exhausted so I went to our tent early. It was only about 7:00 pm so most of the camp is awake and talking.

And I hear them all talking. Well, sort of. You know what the sound of large groups of talking people sound like. Indistinctive and you don’t make out any specific words unless, unless you pay attention for some reason.

So I have that indistinctive group chatter going on in the back ground. But anytime my son’s name was mentioned in conversation I heard it. But I didn’t only hear his name, I also heard several words BEFORE his name. Often the whole sentence.

So I wonder what is going on here. Is my subconscious understanding and buffering EVERY conversation going on in the background so it can then forward along what is relevant?

In retrospect, I have noticed this phenomenon throughout my life but never gave it any thought.

Before you ask, NO, I wasn’t stoned. I was completely sober, though I could understand your skepticism. :)

So two questions:

1. Have you noticed this phenomenon before?
2. Do you agree with my assessment of what is going on or do you have a different explanation?

That kind of thing does happen. It's sort of like when you learn a new term and suddenly hear it a time or two later that day. Basically it's a function of merely being aware of it more than normal. You're just filtering stuff a little more strictly than you usually do.
 

ModerationNow!

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I think we do the same regarding foreign languages in which we understand a few words.

When I hear Spanish, sometimes words I recognize become sentences by piecing together other semi familiar words or tone. That happened with Swedish and Swahili as well.

If I was on a covert stakeout, and I listened to an hour of Spanish-only conversation, I would only be capable of discerning parts of the conversation that involved beer and/or burritos.
 
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