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Shifting priorities at the wheel

Multitasking while driving may exceed brain's capacity

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4:34pm, April 24, 2008

A special corner of hell is reserved for drivers who weave from one lane to another at a crawl while blithely chatting on their cell phones. Even a simple form of multitasking — driving while listening to someone else talk — disrupts the ability to navigate a car safely, a new study finds.

An intriguing neural response underlies vehicular mishaps associated with such distractions, say neuroscientist Marcel Just of CarnegieMellonUniversity in Pittsburgh and his colleagues. Attending to what someone says galvanizes language-related brain areas while simultaneously reducing activity in spatial regions that coordinate driving behavior.

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