Maintaining direct eye contact really is strenuous for the brain, according to new research, and it uses up scarce cognitive resources that we need for things like reasoning and verbal processing.
There are many reasons for avoiding eye contact ― social anxiety, being lost in thought, or feeling strong emotions like guilt or embarrassment ― but sometimes we drop another’s gaze simply because it’s too mentally taxing.
A Japanese study published in the December issue of the journal Cognition found there is some interference between eye contact and verbal processing in the brain, which may be why we periodically avert our eyes during conversations. The researchers found that eye contact uses the same mental resources as complex reasoning ― so, when carrying on a conversation that requires us to reason, we may periodically drop eye contact as a way to conserve those cognitive resources. In other words, maintaining eye contact can take a lot of effort. (1)
Seeing. Listening. Thinking.
Everything entails using the brain. Everything entails thinking. And research also shows that the development of our brain, sensory perception and motor skills happen in sync. (2)
So why do we think of thinking as something special? “I think therefore I am” said a philosopher once upon a time. But could something so common be so important as to define who we are? If thinking is the default, shouldn’t we seek our identity in something less common? And what does the synchronized development of the brain, the senses and our self actually mean?
Lower your gaze.
Close your ears.
There is no one talking…
You are talking to yourself. You are the only one here…