A test of auditory awareness

This is a slightly edited version of the experiment we ran for our forthcoming article (Dalton & Fraenkel, 2012). In the last few days it’s been reported on by various media outlets, including the BBC, the Huffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.

Please put on some headphones and try it for yourself.
As always, we’d love to hear your comments!


  1. Matt Mandeville said:

    Yes I did he seemed quite certain he was a gorilla.

  2. Joshua said:

    I cought the man rantinghe is a gorrilla and the girls being girls with there rapping paper and styles and confusion towards colors…

  3. Fred davis said:

    So here is an auditory equivalent of the gorrilla walking through the room of ball driblers. There is a nutrient that affects the ability to pay attention and sort out the voices. People with methylcobalamin (and maybe methylfolate, NOT folic or folinic acid) deficiencies (cyanocobalamin or hydroxycobalamin often doesn’t make a difference) are often unable to serparate the jumble of voices and make sense of either the men’s or the women’s voices in something like this.

  4. Grace Zurita said:

    I tried but I had a hard time understanding the women, they seemed to be mumbling but a man in the back ground said I am a gorilla several times in the later half.

  5. Marianne Arnold said:

    I’d like to try this on my son who can focus on multiple things. He has ADD, but not the garden variety. He’s on the autistic spectrum and has unusual attention and memory.

  6. Steven Keltz said:

    Yes clearly, but we were told to listen only to the women’s voices so even though that it is what I was trying to do the “I’m a gorilla” seemed to override that instruction. I expected it to be much more subtle in the background.

  7. Randy said:

    I found it difficult to focus on the women at all. I tried pretty hard, but they were always being talked over, or interrupted by noise, and that was frustrating. But it was very clear that a man was saying “I’m a gorilla.” I don’t think I noticed this just because I knew it was there already, but you should know I was told prior to listening.

  8. Polly said:

    Thanks everyone for your interesting feedback. Our research has shown that people who know about the gorilla before trying the test are much more likely to hear him. Those of you who already knew what was going to happen could perhaps ask friends or family to try the demo (without telling them about the gorilla in advance!)

  9. Bob said:

    Three things; the womens voices seems louder than the mens. Like the microphone was closer to them. Also womens voices are higher pitch and those that have issues hearing may not hear lower tones. When I listens for “I’m a gorilla” I really could not make it out clearly, but what little I heard his voice was real deep. It’s not jsut selective hearing per se, it what tone range the persons hears.

  10. Sherry said:

    The first time I listened, I was focused on the women. I was struggling to get their accents (I’m in KY). I completely missed it. The second time I focused on the men and heard it very clearly over and over. I wonder if I would have heard it the first time if the accents were closer to what I hear every day?

  11. carolyn said:

    I have a minor hearing problem, so in these kinds of situations i listen intently to everyone so i can catch everything. so yes i heard the man say im a gorilla, and the women chatting, I’m just not the best study material on what its supposed to sound like.

  12. Jonathan said:

    I am not a native English speaker, and it was very difficult to understand what the women were saying, and the gorilla sentence is one of the thing I got more, even though I tried to refrain to focus on it.

    I can imagine how it could work much better in my mother tongue. “I’m a gorilla” is one of the few things I understood in the clip, maybe because the repetition made it easier for my brain.

  13. Andrew said:

    Lovely! I’ve run this as a little experiment around my office. The invisible gorilla experiment is too well know to be effective here. So for the audio (so far) n=7 didn’t detect the gorilla =6 and did =1.
    It feeds nicely into some of the real world stuff I deal with where we see a high workload leading to missed audio (or visual) warnings.

  14. S said:

    I am partially deaf, well fully deaf in one ear and some loss in my good ear, I have lower tone deafness which is quite rare as most deafness is of a higher frequency loss, I normally find low conversation and male voices harder to hear though in this I could hear the men easier in tone, missed the gorilla as was trying probably a bit too hard listening to the women discuss wrapping paper and where they parked. This is a good exercise for sectioning off sound though for a person with hearing loss as in noises environments especially in my own opinion the background noise overwhelms conversation, if I am in a cafe I can hear clattering plates, coffee machines, and general hubbub of other peoples conversation yet struggle a lot to hear those directly in front of me talking to me.

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