Why are there people who can't keep eye contact while talking?

Surely when reading the headline of this news, a friend, an acquaintance, a neighbor or a co-worker who is not able to Keep the look When he talks to you, or you are the same. A new scientific investigation It suggests that there might be a good reason why some people have to struggle to be able to endure eye contact with their conversation partner.

It turns out that it's not that people are shy -that may also be a factor-, but brain You can not drive the tasks of think the right words Y focus on one face at the same time, notes the study published in 'Cognition'. This effect becomes more noticeable when someone is trying to find words that he uses infrequently.

Scientists from the University of Kyoto (Japan) suggest that the same mental resources are used At the time of thinking what is going to be said for employees to establish eye contact. To test their hypothesis, they conducted an experiment with 26 volunteers participating in a word matching game while looking at automatically generated faces on a computer.

The brain can't really handle the tasks of thinking the right words and focusing on one face at the same time, the study notes.

"Although eye contact and verbal processing seem independent, people often avoid looking into the eyes of their interlocutors during the conversation," says the research. "Which suggests that there is interference between these processes"they conclude.

The experiment

During the experiment the volunteers were evaluated while watching face animations making eye contact and faces looking away. They were also asked to think about links between easily associable words and others that may be more difficult to associate.

By example, think of a verb for 'knife'It's relatively easy, because you can't do much more than cut or stab But, proposing a verb associated with 'folder' is more difficult, considering that you could open it, close it or fill it.

The volunteers took longer to think in words when they maintained eye contact, but only when they were involved difficult word associations. Investigators suspect that doubt indicates that the brain is handling too much information at once.

The experiment indicates that both actions resort to the same group of cognitive resources and, sometimes, the brain cannot do them efficiently at the same time.

Based on the results obtained, the researchers point out that, although making eye contact and having a conversation is possible, both can turn to the same group of cognitive resources And, sometimes, the brain cannot do two things at once efficiently.

A process called neuronal adaptation

Notably the sample size used was small, so we must take this study as a grain of sand. But it is an interesting hypothesis, and it is not the only study that suggests that the brain is 'scared' by eye contact.

In 2015, Italian psychologist Giovanni Caputo showed that look into another person's eyes for 10 minutes induced a altered state of consciousness. The study, published in the journal 'Scientific American', indicates that participants suffered hallucinations related to monsters, family members and even their own faces.

The cause is a process called neuronal adaptation, a gradual decrease in the time of the responsiveness of the sensory system to a constant stimulus, so when you put your hand on a table, you immediately feel it, but that sensation decreases as you continue there supported.

In the case of Japanese experiment volunteers, they can also be experiencing some kind of neuronal adaptation But, for now, researchers at the University of Kyoto are conducting more studies on the links between verbal and nonverbal communication.

While research in this field continues to progress, if someone looks away when he is talking to you think it might not be rude, just could have an overloaded cognitive system.