Neurophilosophy blog archive

Neurophilosophy is a blog about molecules, mind, and everything in between, written by Mo Costandi.

The latest entries can be found at the Guardian.

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Copyright © Mo Costandi 2006-2014
mohebcostandi@gmail.com | @mocost

Header image of ‘Brainbow‘ hippocampus by Jean Livet

The illusion of attention

You board the train, find a seat and open the latest bestseller by your favourite author. The couple sitting opposite are having a conversation, and the driver announces that there will be a short delay to your journey, but you are so engrossed in your book that you are unaware of these sounds. In fact, you have become almost completely oblivious to your surroundings, and you fail to notice that the train is approaching your stop. You reach the end of a paragraph and, looking up from your book, see the train pulling out of the station…

Everyday experiences like this show us that focused attention has a significant effect on how we perceive the world and, therefore, on what enters into our conscious awareness. This has also been confirmed in the lab, a particularly striking example being the “Invisible Gorilla” experiment, by psychologists Dan Simons of the University of Illinois and Chris Chabris of Union College, New York.

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