When people see violent or erotic images, they fail to process whatever they see next, according to new research.
Scientists are calling the effect "attentional rubbernecking."
“We observed that people fail to detect visual images that appeared one-fifth of a second after emotional images, whereas they can detect those images with little problem after viewing neutral images,” said Vanderbilt University psychologist David Zald.
The effect is akin to rubbernecking on the highway, Zald and his colleagues say. Your brain might suggest you watch the road ahead, but your emotions force you to look at the accident on the side of the road.