BEACON TRANSCRIPT – It seems that when a person is too concentrated on a task they find it hard to pay attention to what other people say and according to scientists visual focus makes you deaf.
Now, don’t worry, the deafness is only temporary. However, not paying attention to others can become a problem. It very often happened to me that my sisters would ask me something and I wouldn’t respond because I didn’t hear her, being focused on a book, or TV or even Facebook. Obviously, she always gets upset.
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience by a team of researchers from University College London the ‘phenomenon’ is called “inattentional” deafness. How does this deficit work? When a person places their undivided attention on a visual task, they can become temporarily deaf and not be able to hear sounds that come from their environment.
The scientific explanation of this phenomenon is that the two senses, hearing and vision are located in the same region of the brain. The processing capacity of this region is quite limited and therefore the brain is forced to choose one task or the other, failing to do both at the same time.
So, clearly we don’t only need our ears to function in order to hear, but we also need our brain to respond to the signals sent by the ears, which are, of course, the sounds.
The study was conducted on 13 subjects that were asked to focus on a task on a computer screen while wearing headphones that played tunes. Meanwhile, the researchers conducted some brain scans on the volunteers and discovered that when the task they were given was more demanding their brains didn’t respond to sound very well or at all. Whereas when the task was easier and didn’t demand a high level of concentration, the brain could focus on the sound as well.
This deficit of ‘inattentional’ deafness can be not only disturbing for the people around you but can also create you difficulties. For example, this type of deafness can become dangerous in traffic, because focusing mostly on what you see on the street can make you unable to hear sounds coming from car engines or bicycle bells.
All in all, don’t get upset if your friend is ignoring you; he or she might simply not hear you. On the other hand, if you’re concentrating on a visual task don’t forget to take some small breaks from once in a while, to listen to your surroundings.
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