Navigation Links
Other People's Cell Phone Conversations Really Are Annoying
Date:5/21/2010

The brain finds hearing half a conversation more distracting, study shows

FRIDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- If you've ever wanted to shout "shut up!" while listening to someone else's cell phone conversation in an elevator, train or restaurant, new research reveals why.

Overhearing one-sided conversations really is more annoying because the brain finds it more taxing, and therefore more distracting, to listen to only half of a conversation versus the whole thing.

"It's unbelievably irritating to overhear someone on a cell phone," said lead study author Lauren Emberson, a doctoral candidate in psychology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "It's harder to tune out, you can't pull your attention away from it and you're more distracted by it.

Emberson and her colleagues did a series of experiments in which college students were asked to do certain tasks that required their full attention while listening to recordings of female college students having a conversation about a current event or other topic. The students were told to ignore the recording as best they could.

In one task, students had to follow a moving dot on a computer screen with a mouse. In another task, they had to remember a series of four letters and were told to press a button each time one flashed on a screen and not to press the button when other letters flashed.

Students first did the tasks in a silent room to determine their baseline proficiency.

When researchers had them do the same tasks while listening to a dialogue, they did just as well as they did in the silent room. They also did well when listening to a monologue, or one person recounting an earlier conversation.

But when researchers played only one side of the dialogue -- similar to overheard cell phone chatter -- the number of errors students made on the attention tasks spiked.

The research will appear in a upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.

In some respects, the findings are curious, Emberson said, because when overhearing half a conversation you're actually hearing less sound than you'd hear while listening to a full conversation.

But much of how humans process language is based on the brain's ability to predict, or anticipate, what comes next in a sentence, Emberson said. The brain is attuned to patterns of speech, acoustics and grammar, so when someone says, "I like to eat", the brain is already figuring out that what comes next is probably going to be some type of food.

One-sided conversations make it more difficult for the brain to make these predictions, so listening is more distracting, she said.

"With half a conversation we get less information, so we have to listen more," Emberson said.

It's not just in speech that humans count on being able to predict what's going to happen next, said Gerry Altmann, a professor of psychology at the University of York in England.

"There is increasing research in a whole range of areas to do with human behavior that shows our ability to predict what's going to come next is fundamental to both our mental and physical functioning," Altmann said. "Much of the behavior we engage in is, in fact, very predictable."

Altman likened hearing half a phone conversation to the difference between walking on a smooth sidewalk to an uneven, rock-strewn path. One doesn't require much attention. The other, which is unpredictable, requires more attention. An overheard cell phone conversation is different in that much of the process is subconscious, he added.

"With half a phone conversation, you're only getting a snapshot, so you can't predict the future, which is what the brain has evolved to do," Altmann said.

And with some 285 million cell phone subscribers in the United States, it's an irritation that isn't likely to go away.

More information

The National Science Foundation has more on how the brain processes language.



SOURCES: Lauren Emberson, doctoral student, department of psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.; Gerry Altmann, Ph.D, professor of psychology, University of York, York, England; Psychological Science


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. Striking Down Medical Liability Reforms Another Blow to Illinois Poor Lawsuit Climate
2. Methadone and Other Opioids Not Always Equivalent, Conversion Can Be Lethal
3. American Red Cross and Other U.S. Blood Centers Send Blood to Haiti
4. Luckey & Mullins Joins with Other National Construction Defect Law Firms to Form Chinese Drywall Legal Network
5. Spanish-Speaking Mothers Less Likely to Turn on TV
6. No Surprise to David Perecman And Other Personal Injury Attorneys, Vehicles Lead All Causes of Injury at New York Hospital
7. DR Vitamins, LLC Introduces Vision Clarity Carnosine Eye Drops to Treat Cataracts, Glaucoma, Dry Eye, or Other Eye Ailments
8. Assisted Senior Living Releases New Tool For Finding Assisted Living Facilities And Other Senior Care
9. Remuda Ranch, Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders, and MASK (Mothers Awareness on School-Age Kids), Partner to Help Educate Parents, Teachers and Students About Eating Disorders
10. The International Association of Pediatricians & Leading Physicians of the World Helps New Mothers Find Top Pediatricians in Their Area
11. Got Another Minute to Talk Health Care? You Can Win $5,000!
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/24/2017)... Birmingham, Clarkston, Lake Orion, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... ... ... Endometriosis is a disease affecting the female reproductive tract in which ... itself on the pelvic structures causing inflammation and pain. Patients experiencing painful ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2017 , ... ... practice is offering holistic pediatric dentistry options for its patients on Long Island, ... the patient’s entire physical well being, and is one of the biggest trends ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... West Orange, NJ (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2017 , ... ... ingredients for avoiding back injury when either lifting weights for strength training and exercise ... Atlantic Spine Center . , “Body position is everything,” Dr. Chang says. “Improper ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... 23, 2017 , ... Allegheny Health Network and the Alexis ... for Women’s Behavioral Health at West Penn Hospital , a unique facility that ... from pregnancy-related depression. Construction of the Center is underway with a scheduled opening ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... May 23, 2017 , ... ... (PHM) technology and a 2017 Best in KLAS category winner, has named Daniel ... position to extend and enhance its technology platform and product offerings,” says Justin ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2017)... 2017  A recent study published in the ... light as a means of disinfection anesthesia workstations ... bioburden on anesthesia workstations. In the study, UVC ... medical equipment surfaces contaminated with three (3) organisms ... study further validates the body of literature supporting ...
(Date:5/4/2017)... SAN DIEGO , May 4, 2017  The ... Clinical and Scientific Meeting— OBP Medical , a leading ... announced the launch of a new extra-small size and ... ER-SPEC vaginal specula. Already available in small, ... sizes makes OBP Medical,s line of single-use lighted specula ...
(Date:5/4/2017)...  A new tight-tolerance microextrusion medical tubing product ... is being launched by Natvar, a Tekni-Plex company. ... recent years to service a wide variety of ... expensive materials such as glass and fluoropolymers have ... their ability to consistently hold tolerances. This is ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: