Tokyo: Scientists have found that holding someone’s gaze while thinking of words is too demanding a task for the brain, which may explain why we sometimes find it difficult to maintain eye contact when talking to people, says PTI.

Maintaining eye contact with a person while speaking can sometimes be difficult. A break in eye contact sometimes signals that someone has grown bored with the conversation. However, researchers suggest that it may be because we are trying to keep our brains from overloading.

Researchers from the Kyoto University in Japan carried out with experiments to learn more about how the phenomenon works. About 26 volunteers were asked to participate in a common word association game in which a person was shown a noun and was then asked to immediately respond with a connected verb.

Participants interacted with a face on a computer (that sometimes looked away) as they played the game with different types of words that the researchers had preselected – some were easy while others were more difficult.

The researchers then compared responses to the words with how long it took a volunteer to respond and their tendency to break eye contact, ‘Medical Xpress’ reported. They found that the volunteers were likely to take more time when responding to harder words, but not as much time if they broke eye contact.

This indicates that the dual task of maintaining eye contact while also racking the brain for a word to meet the request is just too demanding, researchers said. The brain pushes for breaking eye contact so it can focus on finding a word that will fulfil the obligation. The study was published in the journal Cognition.