While it might sound like a silly excuse, those who are engaged in their computers, phones or any number of visual tasks–from scrolling through Facebook to jamming on video game–can find themselves temporarily deaf to noises at normal levels, according to new research out of the University College London.
In the case of an unresponsive child lost in a video game, the study shows that they might not be exhibiting rude behavior so much as they’re afflicted with a form of concentration induced deafness – that is of course, only temporary.
The study’s co-author, Professor Nilli Lavie with University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, was quoted by The Telegraph as having explained that “if you try to talk to someone who is focusing on a book, game or television program and don’t receive a response, they aren’t necessarily ignoring you, they might simply not hear you.”
Inattentional deafness is a common experience in everyday life, and now we know why (…) For example, if you try to talk to someone who is focusing on a book, game or television program and don’t receive a response, they aren’t necessarily ignoring you, they might simply not hear you.
Based on the study’s findings, pedestrians lost in their phones — also known as “digital deadwalkers” — should take warning.
According to Professor Lavie, this might also offer explanation for “why you might not hear your train or bus stop being announced if you’re concentrating on your phone, book or newspaper.”
The study, which was published in the journal Neuroscience, examined the brain scans of 13 volunteers. It’s findings suggest a limited neural resource shared between the vision and hearing senses.
The brain scans, according to study co-author Dr. Maria Chait, “showed that people were not only ignoring o filtering out the sounds, they were not actually hearing them in the first place.”
Dr. Chait noted that the research was conducted as “an experimental lab study, which is one of the ways that we can establish cause and effect.”