Selective Hearing (or selective auditory attention) is a form of selective attention involving the hearing part of the nervous system. It is typically characterised by focussing the attention on a specific source of sound, and thus blocking out the noise of the surrounding environment. A typical example of this could be a person watching a television program intently – someone else in the room can ask them a question and whilst being heard, the subconscious filters this out and does not pass it to the conscious.
Selective hearing is not a physiological problem, rather an example of how clever the brain is at being able to filter out unwanted information allowing the listener to focus on what they choose to listen to (however it is not always seen as such by the person trying to get the listeners attention!)
An article by Krans, Isbell, Giuliano and Neville (2013) defines selective auditory attention as the ability to acknowledge some stimuli while ignoring other stimuli that is occurring at the same time.
The prevalence of selective hearing has not been researched, however it is commonly believed that it is more prevalent in Males than Females.