Eye Contact Disrupts the Brain While Talking, Study Finds

Making eye contact and talking may be connected and affect the brain. Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan may have discovered why people avoid looking someone in the eyes while they are talking.

Researchers Shogo Kajimura and Michio Nomura published their study “When we cannot speak: Eye contact disrupts resources available to cognitive control processes during verb generation” in the journal of Cognition. In the study, researchers explain that scientists once believe eye contact and verbal communication were independent functions. Kajimura and Nomura hypothesized that non-verbal communication such as eye contact use the same resources in the brain as verbal communication.

After several experiments researchers found that there may be a interference in those functions when someone is required to make eye contact and talk. In addition, that type of non-verbal communication may affect the verbal communication process.

Researchers asked people to look at two different videos of people’s faces. Kajimura and Nomura discovered that individuals that watched a video with people making eye contact with the subject experienced a delay in verbal communication. In comparison to those who watched a video featuring people averting their eyes.

Ultimately, researchers argue that the brain is unable to focus on both communicating and eye contact. In turn, the human brain must readjust and focus on finding the correct word in a conversation.

In addition, researchers explain that in order to better understand communication, we must treat non-verbal and verbal messages the same because they may interfere or influence one another.

The interconnectivity of the human brain

Human Brain
Stock Photo: Profile of a bearded man head with symbol neurons in brain. (Lia Koltyrina/Shutterstock.com)

The brain is extremely complex and this research is among the latest of published scientific studies that show an interconnectivity of the human body and the brain. Yesterday, neuroscientists discovered emotional experiences can have a prolonged impact on memory. In addition, scientists discovered “pregnancy brain” may actually exist and prepare women for motherhood.