Kemo D. (kemo_d7) wrote,
Kemo D.

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Brain Blindness

It’s Hard Not to Look…

We all know that seeing something emotional can distract us, but researchers say that it might even blind us... not in our eyes, but in our brains.

It’s hard not to look when you pass an accident on the road, but doing so can be dangerous. Vanderbilt University psychologist David Zald says "emotional" images — like car accidents, a gruesome murder scene, or a bit of pornography — can briefly blind us to everything else around us, limiting our senses and potentially putting us at risk. 

“Something that's emotional not only captures our attention, but it does it to such an extent that it's blocking information that comes in after. We're no longer even looking at that image," says Zald. As reported in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, Zald and his colleagues trained twenty-one people to spot a neutral target image out of a series flying by at ten pictures per second, and then state whether it was rotated to the left or the right. 

The volunteers performed well except when either a gory or erotic image — more graphic than can be shown here — appeared before the target image. Co-author Steven Most, from
Yale University, says in those cases participants were far more likely to miss the target. “When an emotional picture appears, it seems to short-circuit that processing in the brain that will then help you construct a visual conscious perception," Most explains. 

Zald says these emotional blindings happen all the time in our daily lives, but are probably most important for drivers, since a lapse in attention of less than a second is enough to cause an accident.

Kemo D. (a.k.a. no.7)

Tags: psychology, science
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