See Don't Hear: Why We Struggle To Hear When Concentrating on Visual TasksScientists from the University College of London found out why we cannot hear people talking to us when doing a visual task. This happens due to the fact that the senses of hearing and seeing have to share a limited resource of neurons.

When We Concentrate on Seeing, Our Hearing Ability Drops

In fact, we temporarily go deaf when paying full attention to completing a task requiring visual efforts, reported Science Daily.


An unintentional deafness is a relatively common experience in daily life.

Our receptors are unable to notice regular sounds because the neural resource is fully engaged with the visual mission. The study by UCL points out that the reason for that phenomena is in sharing the same required processing recourses in the neural structure of our brains.

In the study, 13 volunteers were required to perform a demanding visual assignment. Their brain response to sounds was found substantially lower during the test.

While testing people’s ability to detect sounds, it was also demonstrated that they failed more often to hear them, when engaged in their image-related project, even though they were perfectly capable of noticing such noises normally.

According to the researchers, people not simply filtered out the sounds but were unable to hear them in the first place, when concentrating on visuals.

The brain’s activity was measured in real time by MEG (magneto encephalography). It demonstrated that the phenomenon of “temporarily deafness” during visual concentration was real. People are not ignoring sounds but are indeed unable to perceive them.

The study’s authors, professor Nilli Lavie of UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, and Dr Maria Chait of UCL Ear Institute point out that unintentional deafness is a relatively common experience in daily life. Now we know what this happens.

For the same reason, if you are reading a book or playing on your phone, you may be unable to hear an arriving bus or an announcement to board your flight. Loud sounds, however, such as sirens, will be likely to get noticed.


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Fantastic! I’ve tried several times! I’ve read a very interesting book and put on the news on TV. Reading the book I tried to pull the information from the news. I failed!!! It’s really impossible!! But Caesar could. Or could he do only several things not including seeing and hearing at the same time? Now I won’t stop training! And who knows? Maybe in a year I’ll become Caesar the II)))