MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller notes that our brains are
“not wired to multitask well… when people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”
Simply put, our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time and ‘multitasking’ makes it more difficult to filter out irrelevant information – reducing the efficiency and quality of our work.
Furthermore, according to a report published in the Journal of Neuroscience, people who are focused on visual tasks can’t hear what’s going on around them because hearing and vision tap the same brain regions.
Researchers have dubbed this hearing deficit ‘in-attentional deafness’. Study co-author Nilli Lavie, a professor of psychology and brain science at University College London says:
“You may think that the person is ignoring you, but their brain just can’t respond to your voice. So you shouldn’t take it personally.”
My wife constantly tells me off because she thinks I’m ignoring her, and for years I’ve been telling her that I simply didn’t hear – finally, some research to back me up.
I do hope she reads this article!
So what about advertising?
Well… if you look at the media world, it would appear we’ve missed a trick.