A team of scientists at UCL (University College London) has discovered why we often miss major changes in our surroundings - such as a traffic light turning green when were listening to the radio. Our inability to notice large changes in a visual scene is a phenomenon often exploited by magicians - but only now can scientists put their finger on the exact part of the brain that is so often deceived.
The UCL team shows, in a research paper published in the September issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex (which goes online on 24th August) that the part of the brain called the parietal cortex, the area responsible for concentration, is also critical to our ability to detect changes. The exact critical spot lies just a few centimetres above and behind the right ear – the area many people scratch when concentrating.
Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), the team switched off the parietal cortex part of the brain temporarily by applying magnetic stimulation to the head via a magnetic coil which produces small electrical currents to the brain. Without help from this region of the brain, subjects failed to notice even major visual changes– in this case a change of a persons face.
Alex Brew | EurekAlert!
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