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    I realize theres more to the post, but nothing says “solving the right problem the right way” quite like “AWS lambda slackbot webhook”. Paging Ian Malcolm.

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      I have a hunch that the loudness indicator might not be the right step.

      While loud noise can be annoying in general, what gets to me most when I have difficulty concentrating is the sound of people talking. And that does not need to be loud to be distracting. I guess I’m just hard-wired to pick up all these words even if I actively try to ignore it.

      Headphones remain a great way to mask out chatter you do not want to hear.

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        I guess I’m just hard-wired to pick up all these words even if I actively try to ignore it.

        Indeed you are! This is an area of active debate in psychology, but it is generally agreed that some level of semantic (meaning-based) processing is applied to spoken words even when unattended (when you aren’t “paying attention” to them).

        The standard example is the “cocktail party effect”. In the middle of a bunch of overlapping conversations, you can tune into a specific one and tune out the rest, implying some sort of “early selection” (before semantic processing) based on spatial location and physical characteristics of the voices involved. However, if, for example, your name is mentioned in another conversation which you aren’t attending to, your brain will likely call it to your attention anyway—implying some sort of “late selection” (after sound has been processed for meaning) also takes place on unattended audio streams.

        The “Early” and “More recent work” sections of the Wikipedia article on the cocktail party effect provide a good overview of this debate and its history.

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          This same phenomenon might explain why I can concentrate while playing instrumental music or death metal or pop in a foreign language I do not understand. But clean lyrics in English or Finnish get very distracting very quick.

          Apart from that, my ability to tune into a single voice is actually pretty bad. Bars with loud music are a nightmare for me, unless all I was planning to do was to sit alone in a corner without trying to communicate with anybody. The same effect grinds me even just walking around in town and trying to talk with someone. I can’t tune out the noise of passing cars and I have so much trouble hearing. It could be some sort of hearing damage but then again I’ve never been diagnosed with such (and I’ve done very well on hearing tests). I’m also quite sensitive to quiet noises other people don’t seem to notice. Like the whine and buzz coming from my mouse, ssds, and monitor.

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            I believe what you describe is known as hyperacusis.