Even talking on a hands-free phone while driving is dangerously distracting, because scientists say our brains are not capable of paying attention to more than one thing at a time. So why is it safe to listen to the radio?and not just music, but traffic advisories?while driving?

We can listen to a car radio and drive while keeping an eye on changing traffic conditions. These are separate complex tasks that we can do at the same time without much trouble. But if two people are talking to us at the same time, our perceptual frequencies get jammed.

A new study shows that our brains are actually pretty good at perceptual multitasking?except when the many sources of incoming stimuli are of the SAME TYPE, using the same part of the brain. Researcher Christopher Conway says, “?These results show that humans have a powerful learning system that is capable of learning sequential patterns simultaneously from multiple environmental sources?provided each source is perceived as being distinct.”

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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