Why being lost-in-thought can blind you: The effects of distractor processing on perception. (2012)
Serious accidents often arise when distractions, such as mobile phones, overload cognitive resources and interfere with perception of key sensory events. Surprisingly however, how and why this occurs remains poorly understood. Here, we address this critical gap in our knowledge by testing a novel theoretical explanation that builds upon the individual expertise of each collaborator. Our work will determine when distractors are errantly selected as relevant items, how distractors increase load on cognitive systems, and how this load interferes with sensory perception. This work provides important insights into the perceptual effects of being lost-in-thought and lays the foundation for future basic and applied research in multiple fields.