You're always told not to talk on cellphones while driving for obvious reasons. Now, a new research has been published to explain what exactly happens in the brain while it juggles the two tasks.
The study by a University of South Carolina psychology researcher featured in the journal, Experimental Psychology, provides a better understanding of why language - talking and listening, including on a cell phone - interferes with visual tasks, such as driving.
In two different experiments, associate professor of psychology Dr. Amit Almor found that planning to speak and speaking put far more demands on the brain's resources than listening.
"We measured their attention level and found that subjects were four times more distracted while preparing to speak or speaking than when they were listening," said Almor of the 47 people who participated in the experiment.
"People can tune in or out as needed when listening," he added.
One experiment required participants to detect visual shapes on a monitor, and a second experiment required participants to use a computer mouse to track a fast-moving target on the screen. In both experiments, participants performed the visual task while listening to prerecorded narratives and responding to the narratives.
Almor calls the finding "very strong" and expects it to be even stronger in actual, interactive conversation.