A challenging visual task will make you temporarily deaf as per a new study featuring in the Journal of Neuroscience. Being visually engaged in a task may render us temporarily deaf to any sounds around.
Which may be understood as ignoring the people around us when they’re talking. However, that is not the case according to the findings of a research team from the University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Professor Nilli Lavie, lead author of the study called the phenomenon inattentional deafness.
Everyone is subject to inattentional deafness. Thus, next time you’re talking to your colleagues while they’re focused on reading the latest stats, do not assume they’ve heard what you say. It’s better to wait until they’re not engaged in any visually demanding task anymore.
Think about it this way. Many times we’ve felt ignored when trying to communicate with someone who’s either watching a movie, reading the newspaper, playing a videogame or checking out the latest updates on social media.
Yet, according to the study, neither are we ignored, nor are we intentionally ignoring someone while being engaged in a challenging visual activity. Our brains dedicate the same resources to hearing and seeing. If one of these senses requires more resources to be allocated, then the other suffers. Inattentional deafness is a result of focusing too much on a visual task which occupies almost all of the resources. The reverse is true. If we’re listening to music for instance, we might not notice movements around us or observe our environment.
As such, a challenging visual task will make you temporarily deaf. Another example of inattentional deafness steers towards a more complicated area: personal relationships. Recently, the (rude) habit of snubbing one’s phone has received the name phubbing.
Phubbing while in the presence of your partner or family has been deemed not only rude, but also a constant factor ruining happiness in a relationship, building mistrust and leading partners to feel ignored. And there is an explanation for all of that. While the temptation of checking one’s phone when it’s in close reach is hard to resist nowadays, once you start, you can’t stop.
Compulsively checking messages, news feeds, images, videos, emails will engage you visually to the extent that you really won’t hear your partner anymore while you’re having dinner or spending time together. It may be even more dangerous. Inattentional deafness while on the street or crossing the street may turn downright life-threatening. With this in mind, choose the times when to engage in a visually compelling task carefully.
Photo Credits: FLickr