Men hear better than women…at parties

Men hear better than women – at parties 

Men are more capable of separating relevant sounds from background noise at parties, a German study has found. The reason may be that in the early days of humanity men were the ones who went hunting for food.

Many of us know the situation; at a party you would like to talk to a person but this can be quite exhausting due to the background noise. The words of your conversation partner are drowned out by the conversation of others and the music. We have to concentrate on the voice of the person we are talking to and separate the relevant sounds from the background noise. Our attention system is therefore highly stressed. This is known as “the cocktail party phenomenon”.

German researchers have found that men hear better at parties and are more capable of separating relevant sounds from the background noise.

Natural selection and evolution

The researchers from the Neurological Clinic of the University Hospital and the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research (HIH) in Tübingen, Germany, found that the audio-spatial abilities of men are more highly developed than those of women. The researchers think that men’s ability to hear better at parties may be due to the different evolutionary requirements of the sexes. Over time men have developed these spatial abilities as a result of natural and sexual selection throughout human evolution.

“Men were the ones who hunted for food. Here, attention performance was extremely important. Thus prey could be localised by noise before it could be seen,” said Ida Zündorf and Prof. Hans Otto Karnath from the University Hospital in Tübingen.

The study

In the study, the participants were asked to listen to sounds and determine the location of the sound source. In a first test, sounds were presented one at a time and both women and men accomplished the task with great accuracy. In a further test, several sounds were presented at the same time and the participants had to focus on and localise only one sound. The latter was much more difficult for women. In some cases women even thought that the sounds were coming from the opposite direction.

Source: Hörakustik, 9/2011,—at-parties-1

Background Noise

 When trying to sing in church I could not hear my own voice, and so gave up trying. Whereas I used to enjoy music, now it just existed and gave me very little lift. I had to try so hard to distinguish any words a soloist was singing.

Road noise drove me frantic. The noises I did not want to hear became a maddening roar, and those I wanted to hear I could not.

After listening to the Sound Therapy tapes, all this is changing. It brings tears of gratitude to my eyes, this recharging of life, made possible by this wonderful therapy. I can now hear the timbre in my own voice as I sing equally with that of others, and I can even hear the birds singing as I walk in the park. I am using my hearing aids less and less.

It is more that just improved hearing though. I find myself able and willing to communicate with people, it is easier to smile and reciprocate love.

William A. Whiteside
Toowomba, Queensland

see more testimonials regarding background noise


Background Noise

Background Noise Problem or Cocktail Party Syndrome (CPS)

The inability to differentiate sound from background noise is a very common problem affecting at least 20% of the population, both old and young. This condition may be an indication of hearing loss or the person may have acute hearing but simply have a problem with auditory discrimination.

Living with CPS

How bad is it really to live with a back ground noise discrimination problem? The difficulty this problem creates for most people is that they do not necessarily fit into the category of hard of hearing, a hearing aid will not help, people know you are not deaf, yet you have to be constantly explaining that you cannot hear in a noisy environment. So much of our social communication takes place in noisy environments, so normal communication becomes a daily dilemma. You meet someone at a conference who lives near you and says “Oh, why don’t we take the train home together?” You immediately panic, knowing the stress and embarrassment that will be caused for you all the way home because you cannot hear your companion over the noise of the train.

At social gatherings you are always nervous that you will respond inappropriately and embarrass yourself, you may say yes when you mean no, or no when you mean yes, or you could end up agreeing to a date or a business deal that you had no idea of. But you are not deaf! People telling you to get a hearing aid does no good, because you can hear perfectly well, you just can’t separate the fore sound from the background sound. No one has ever heard of or acknowledged your condition, practitioners tell you the problem is psychological and you just don’t want to listen. The good news is, you have exactly the same problem that brought Patricia Joudry to Sound Therapy and was the reason behind her developing the portable program to help thousands of others like herself.

How does Sound Therapy help CPS

There may be several factors which explain the remarkable effectiveness of Sound Therapy for background noise differentiation problems. The ability to differentiate and focus on specific sounds in a noisy environment is partly a function of the ear and partly of the brain. Dr Tomatis postulated that the middle ear muscles (the hammer and stirrup muscles) play a role in determining which sounds the ear will focus on. They have a tuning function, changing the tension on the ear drum and other membranes allowing the ear to tune in exactly to a certain sound input. The gymnastic rehabilitation of the middle ear muscles caused by Sound Therapy may contribute to the improved ability to differentiate sound from background noise.

Another aspect of the Cocktail Party Syndrome is Central Auditory Processing (CAP), which means the ability of the brain to sort and make sense of different, simultaneous auditory inputs. It is quite apparent from the results on learning, speech functions and short term memory that Sound Therapy facilitates Central Auditory Processing. The ear is the end organ through which the auditory parts of the brain can be stimulated. The organised harmonic structure of classical music with its stimulating effect further enhanced by the Electronic Ear has proved an effective way to increase neural efficiency in processing sound.

Research and Media


To learn more about how Sound Therapy could help Cocktail Party Syndrome, request one of our Free Reports.

Hearing Loss Symptoms and Relief

Sound Therapy and Hearing

Hearing is essential to our every relationship, social event, work meeting and our ability to be connected with, communicate and play a vital role in our families. Sound Therapy has helped thousands of people to hear more easily, improving relationships, reducing social stress and frustration, improving career performance, self esteem and enjoyment of life.

The problem of hearing loss

When a member of the family begins to lose their hearing, it is often the other members who notice it first and are most affected by it. Those who are losing their hearing often deny that it is happening and believe others are just not speaking clearly. Some early signs of hearing loss are difficulty hearing in a noisy room, known as Cocktail Party Syndrome, needing the TV turned up louder than everybody else, misunderstanding words or having to ask people to repeat themselves. One of the reasons for the denial, is that people may hate the idea of wearing a hearing aid.

Loss of hearing affects social participation more than any other sense. Language is our means of communicating with people so all aspects of life are affected including work, relationships, family, education and recreation. For many people this can be devastating, affecting their career, leading to lowered self esteem, reduced income, social isolation and reduced options in life. It is important to take steps to improve ones hearing ability both by using hearing aids, if appropriate, and with Sound Therapy which directly enhances the performance of the natural ear.

Sound Therapy offers a great alternative for several reasons:

  • It may eliminate or delay the need for hearing aids in mild cases of hearing loss
  • It tunes up high frequency hearing, making speech comprehension easier
  • It is a natural approach, improving the body’s own function rather than compensating with a device
  • For hearing aid users, Sound Therapy helps them to use their hearing aids more successfully. This is because it activates the ear muscles, improving the focusing function of the ear and improves central auditory processing. Some hearing aid users get such significant improvement from Sound Therapy that they no longer need hearing aids

Why does hearing deteriorate?

There are many contributing causes to hearing deterioration. Some of the more common ones are:

  • Cochlear damage due to prolonged exposure to loud noise.
  • Lack of high frequency sound to stimulate the ear.
  • Lack of good muscle tone in the middle ear, caused by stress or poor diet.
  • Psychological factors – inability to resolve personal issues and communicate.
  • Otosclerosis – overgrowth of the cochlear bone which results in fusing the stapes to the cochlea.

How does Sound Therapy help hearing?

Sound Therapy helps in three ways.

1. Exercising the muscles.

The middle ear contains two tiny muscles, the tensor tympani and the stapedius. Good muscle tone and flexibility is essential for the fine tuning of the middle ear mechanism. The alternating high and low frequencies cause the ear muscles to repeatedly tense and relax. This exercise restores muscle tone and improves the functioning of the whole ear mechanism.

2. Stimulating the cilia.

On the Sound Therapy tapes the low frequency (low tone) sounds are progressively removed and the high frequencies are augmented. These high frequency sounds stimulate the cilia (the fine, hair like sensory cells in the inner ear). Where the cilia have been flattened by too much noise, the high frequency sound stimulates them to return to their upright position. This restores the person’s hearing in the high frequencies.

3. Psychological opening.

Hearing is sometimes closed down to some extent for psychological reasons. Sound Therapy encourages resolution of psychological issues by reintroducing high frequency sound and re-creating the pre-birth experience of sound. As the psychological issues are resolved, the person can allow themselves to open to the full range of hearing.

For more information on the Sound Therapy program it is recommended that you read the book:

Sound Therapy: Music to Recharge your Brain,
by Patricia and Rafaele Joudry.

Research and Media


To learn more about how Sound Therapy could help hearing loss, request one of our Free Reports.


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