UCL Ear Institute


Inattentional Deafness: Why children who ignore their parents while playing video games have an excuse!

9 December 2015

A recent article written by PhD student Katharine Molloy, and her supervisors Maria Chait (Ear Institute) and Prof Nilli Lavie (ICN) explains why you may feel ignored when your loved one is focused on their smart phones or video games.

In a phenomenon being called "Inattentional Deafness" visual stimuli take over the sensory processing part of your brain, meaning there's no power left to hear sounds.

Maria Chait said: 'We found that when volunteers were performing the demanding visual task, they were unable to hear sounds that they would normally hear.

'The brain scans showed that people were not only ignoring or filtering out the sounds, they were not actually hearing them in the first place.'

Media coverage of the article can be found here:


Molloy, K., Griffiths, T.D., Chait, M., and Lavie, N. Inattentional Deafness: Visual Load Leads to Time-Specific Suppression of Auditory Evoked Responses. Journal of Neuroscience, 2015, 35 (49)