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Brain Science Helps Computers Separate Speakers in a Crowded Room


Brain Science Helps Computers Separate Speakers in a Crowded Room, illustration

Credit: Andrij Borys Associates / Shutterstock

The mechanics of the human brain and hearing system are providing inspiration for the development of algorithms that could lead to better hearing aids, with researchers combining neural networks and techniques that mirror biological behavior. Yet researchers dealing with the computer science are cautious about pushing the emulation of biology too far.

For decades, researchers in both neuroscience and artificial intelligence have been fascinated by the so-called 'cocktail party problem'. Cognitive scientist Colin Cherry coined the term in 1953 during a project for the U.S. Office of Naval Research while working at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to find out how it is possible for humans to "recognize what one person is saying when others are speaking at the same time."


 

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