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Visual Concentration Can Lead to Short-term Deafness

Update Date: Dec 10, 2015 08:52 AM EST

Researchers at the University College of London have recently revealed that the vision and hearing senses processed by the brain have limited capacity so the brain has to choose between the two. In a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, 14 people were part of the experiment where they faced great difficulty in attempting visual tasks when the sounds were playing in the background. The researchers monitored the brain activity of the participants during this time. When the visual tasks were more demanding, the brain did not respond to sound so actively. According to the researchers, it is not that the participants were ignoring these sounds but they didn't actually hear them, reports ABC News.

"In order to hear, we don't just need our ears to be operating; we need our brain to respond to the sound," said study author Nilli Lavie, professor of psychology and brain sciences at the University College London. "If our brain doesn't respond because our attention is fully taken by another task, then we experience deafness. She added, "We have confirmed an experience that people commonly report, that they may fail to notice a sound when they are concentrating. It's because the brain signal related to hearing is significantly reduced during more demanding visual tasks."

This is not the first time that such a study has been conducted that shows how our brains overload. "We can fail to notice things that are right in front of us when we are focusing our attention on other things," said Daniel Simons, author of best selling book "The Invisible Gorilla" and the professor of psychology at the University of Illinois. He was not involved in this study but shared his expert opinion. He also said, "When you are distracted by something visual, you may not hear something that is auditory."

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