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Individuals Distraction can Be Measured by a Computer Based Test

essor Lavie.

"People come away from our test thinking they've done really well and haven't been distracted at all when in fact their response times increase and they tend to make more mistakes; showing that they have been distracted. So the test is objective and there's no way of doctoring the results," she added.

Sixty-one subjects took a short computerised test during which letters, acting as distractions, flashed up on screen. The subjects were asked to ignore the distracter letters and focus on the odd-one-out in the circle of letters.

The participants were asked to rapidly press the relevant key on a keyboard whenever they located the odd-one-out, so reaction times and the effects of distracters on performance could be measured.

The second finding in the study was that all participants, whether they are generally easily distracted or not, were far less distracted when they were performing the more difficult task. Since the brain was loaded with information that was relevant to the task, there was no extra brain capacity for processing distracting information and so even people who are more easily distracted are able to focus all their attention on the task in hand.

"This second finding shows that, even if you are more easily distracted than others, you can decrease your susceptibility to being distracted. This could have important implications for increasing attention and performance. I am currently working on specific applications for education that aim to improve attention in school pupils and reduce the likelihood of them being distracted both in class and when doing homework. We could make commercial applications of the distraction test available on demand," Professor Lavie said.


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