A new study has found that when you concentrate more on a visual task, you can go deaf momentarily.
The research undertaken by a new UCL study suggests that the senses of hearing and vision share a limited neural resource.
Researchers found that when we are engaged in a visual task, the brain response to sound is significantly reduced.
The examination of a person's ability to detect sound during a visual demanding task also showed a higher rate of failure to detect sounds, even though the sounds were clearly audible and people did detect them when the visual task was easy.
Lead researcher Dr Maria Chait said the phenomenon of 'inattentional deafness', where we fail to notice sounds when concentrating on other things, has been observed by the researchers before also.
However, for the first time that they have been able to determine, by measuring brain activity in real-time using MEG (magnetoencephalography), that the effects are driven by brain mechanisms at a very early stage of auditory processing which would be expected to lead to the experience of being deaf to these sounds.
Co-author Professor Nilli Lavie from UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience pointed out that the pedestrians engaging with their phone, for example texting while walking, are also prone to inattentional deafness.
The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.