As it turns out, all this distraction may come at a massive cost—not just to our sanity, but to our view of the world and reality. If something distracts you, even if you try to ignore it, it can leave an impact on your memory that you don't even realize is there.
The findings come courtesy of new research at Ohio State University, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. Dozens of participants were given a simple-sounding task. Look at a screen of four colored squares. One will be outlined in white—pay attention to that one. After these squares flash on the screen for a mere tenth of a second, pick the color that you remember from a color wheel.
Despite the rapid speed of such work, the human brain excels at this task. "People are quite good at this, surprisingly good!" says Julie Golomb, senior author on the paper and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State University. "If I were to show you a video, at speed, you'd be like, 'How do people do that?' But people get quite good at it."