Bee’s Treefrogs In an Assault on the Cocktail Party Problem

Treefrogs often find themselves faced with the Cocktail Party Problem. Those who study the Cocktail Party Problem have their own complicated mess to make sense of: They try to understand how someone amidst a yacketing group can understand one particular conversation even though many other conversations are equally audible.

This study sees treefrogs as possibly being or supplying keys to understanding understanding in cocktail party situations:

Treefrogs as Animal Models for Research on Auditory Scene Analysis and the Cocktail Party Problem,” Mark A. Bee, International Journal of Psychophysiology, epub January 11 2014.  The author, at the University of Minnesota, reports:

“Here, I review recent and ongoing work aimed at testing hypotheses about perceptual mechanisms that enable treefrogs in the genus Hyla to communicate vocally in noisy, multi-source social environments. After briefly introducing the genus and the methods used to study hearing in frogs, I outline several functional constraints on communication posed by the acoustic environment of breeding ‘choruses’. Then, I review studies of sound source perception aimed at uncovering how treefrog listeners may be adapted to cope with these constraints. Specifically, this review covers research on the acoustic cues used in sequential and simultaneous auditory grouping, spatial release from masking, and dip listening.”

Here’s video, from Professor Bee, of Cope’s gray treefrog in something of a cocktail party situation:

(Thanks to investigator Neil Martin for bringing this to our attention.)