The Zoomer Report: Brain and Cell Phone Conversations

Do you get annoyed when you have to listen to someone else’s cellphone conversation? Well there’s a scientific reason as well as a social one. New research finds that the brain finds it more taxing, and therefore more distracting, to listen to only half of a conversation versus the whole thing.

Researchers did a series of experiments in which college students were asked to do certain tasks that required their full attention under different conditions.

When they did these tasks while listening to a dialogue, they did just as well as they did in a silent room. They also did well when listening to one person recounting an earlier conversation.

But when they heard only one side of the dialogue — similar to overheard cell phone chatter — the number of mistakes piled up.

The research will appear in a upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.

About The Zoomer Report

Libby ZnaimerLibby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.

Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.

Are you a Zoomer? Click here to find out.

Classical 96.3FM logo