Why being lost-in-thought can blind you: The effects of distractor processing on perception (ARC Discovery Project administered by the University of Western Australia). (2012–2014)
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.