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Stop what you’re doing for a second and listen to whatever sounds are in your immediate environment. Are there people chattering? Is there a fan humming? Maybe an air conditioner? Unless you’re sitting in absolute silence, you’re probably now aware of these sounds that weren’t apparent just a moment ago. In doing this exercise, you’ve just observed a psychological phenomenon called habituation, which is your brain’s ability to tune out background noises like the humming of a fan, a refrigerator, or birds chirping outside while you focus on a more pertinent task. You no doubt are aware about your mind’s ability to separate various stimuli, to focus on what’s critical and what’s not. But consider what an impressive computational system your brain is for supporting this ability without you having to think about it. There’s a reason you’re conscious mind focuses on some things and not others. Your brain, while amazingly complex and more sophisticated than that of any other known species,... read more

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