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4 Attention and distraction

4.1 Introduction

The above account of having attention taken away from the intended target reminds us that, while it may be advantageous from a survival point of view to have attention captured by novel events, these events are actually distractions from the current object of attention. Those who have to work in open-plan offices, or try to study while others watch TV, will know how distracting extraneous material can be. Some try to escape by wearing headphones, hoping that music will be less distracting, but does that work? Are some distractors worse than others? These kinds of question have been addressed by research and the answers throw further light upon the nature of attention.


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