A new study by two psychologists from British Columbia's Simon Fraser University reveals that an active suppression mechanism is in place when the brain wants to avoid being distracted.
This discovery could revolutionize treatment of attention-deficit disorders as well as the way these diseases are perceived by doctors at large. Researchers John McDonald and John Gaspar revealed that this was the first study to highlight an anti-distraction mechanism in the brain. It involved 47 students, who were asked to perform an attention-demanding visual search task.
"Distraction is a leading cause of injury and death in driving and other high-stakes environments," Dr McDonald told the Toronto Sun. "There are individual differences in the ability to deal with distraction. New electronic products are designed to grab attention. Suppressing such signals takes effort, and sometimes people can't seem to do it. Moreover, disorders associated with attention deficits, such as ADHD and schizophrenia, may turn out to be due to difficulties in suppressing irrelevant objects rather than difficulty selecting relevant ones."
The study details appear in The Journal of Neuroscience.