The Myth of Multi-Tasking: The Problem of Listening while Driving
As we head into the holiday season, this study is a good reminder that cell phones and driving (and even listening to conversation while driving) has its risks. Using a driving simulation setup, Marcel Just and his colleagues saw that listening to sentences robbed from visual and spatial areas necessary for driving. This is also why hands-free phones are really not any better than conventional cell phones. The problem is not just having to hold the phone, it's diverting the brain's resources for visual and spatial awareness.
This principle applies to much more than driving while listening. It's especially hard not to multitask as we head into the holiday season, butits it's wise to realize it often comes with a price. For more on this general topic, check out Christine Rosen's The Myth of Multi-tasking
Driving while listening to someone speak fMRI pdf