While wives become furious whenever their partners claim that they were unable to hear specific instructions, British scientists have discovered that it is indeed possible to blank out sounds when a person is concentrating fully on a task.
Researchers from the University College London conducted the study on 100 adults and asked them to perform some specific tasks on a computer. They were also given headsets which helped them perform those tasks but the researchers sometimes unexpectedly played out a tone.
When the participants were performing simple tasks such as the color difference between two bars, the researchers found that over 80 percent of them heard the tune. However when the task required full concentration, such as which of the bars were longer, the same number admitted that they did not hear the tune.
In their report, which has been published in the journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, the researchers called the phenomenon as "Inattentional Deafness" and said that it could even affect females.
"It is a common everyday experience. For example, when engrossed in a good book or even a captivating newspaper article we may fail to hear the train driver's announcement and miss our stop", lead researcher Prof Nilli Lavie said.