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Cell phone ringtones make you dumber

Anyone trying to find an answer to a difficult problem at school, university or work might want to make sure everyone has turned off their new or old cell phone ringtone. Researchers are claiming that remembering things and coming up with solutions is easier to accomplish if your cell phone has been set to silent as ringtones, particularly those that use catchy songs, drain the power of your brain.

Scientists from Washington University in St Louis in the United States say that students who were exposed to ringing cell phones scored as much as up to 25 percent less on tests that those who were not. If the song used was one that the students knew and liked, then the results were even worse.

“Many of us consider a mobile phone ringing in a public place to be an annoying distraction, but this study confirms that these nuisance noises also have real life impacts,” says Jill Shelton, who was the lead author of the study. “These seemingly innocuous events are not only a distraction, but they have a real influence on learning.”

On the plus side however, evidence also suggests that people can simply become immune to some distractions, with students who featured in repeated trials of the experiment failing to be distracted by the same event. “There’s definitely some evidence to suggest that people can become habituated to a distracting noise,” Shelton concedes, citing constantly ringing phones in the office environment as an example which people eventually become accustomed to.