A Talking on the phone while driving isn’t the only situation where we’re worse at multitasking than we might like to think we are. New studies have identified a bottleneck in our brains that some say means we are fundamentally incapable of true multitasking. If experimental findings reflect real-world performance, people who think they are multitasking are probably just underperforming in all – or at best, all but one – of their parallel pursuits. Practice might improve your performance, but you will never be as good as when focusing on one task at a time.
B The problem, according to René Marois, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, is that there’s a sticking point in the brain. To demonstrate this, Marois devised an experiment to locate it. Volunteers watch a screen and when a particular image appears, a red circle, say, they have to press a key with their index finger. Different coloured circles require presses from different fingers. Typical response time is about half a second, and the volunteers quickly reach their peak performance. Then they learn to listen to different recordings and respond by making a specific sound. For instance, when they hear a bird chirp, they have to say “ba”; an electronic sound should elicit a “ko”, and so on. Again, no problem. A normal person can do that in about half a second, with almost no effort.
C The trouble comes when Marois shows the volunteers an image, and then almost immediately plays them a sound. Now they’re flummoxed. “If you show an image and play a sound at the same time, one task is postponed,” he says. In fact, if the second task is introduced within the half-second or so it takes to process and react to the first, it will simply be delayed until the first one is done. The largest dual-task delays occur when the two tasks are presented simultaneously; delays progressively shorten as the interval between presenting the tasks lengthens.
D There are at least three points where we seem to get stuck, says Marois. The first is in simply identifying what we’re looking at. This can take a few tenths of a second, during which time we are not able to see and recognise a second item. This limitation is known as the “attentional blink”: experiments have shown that if you’re watching out for a particular event and a second one shows up unexpectedly any time within this crucial window of concentration, it may register in your visual cortex but you will be unable to act upon it. Interestingly, if you don’t expect the first event, you have no trouble to respond to the second. What exactly causes the attentional blink is still a matter for debate.
E A second limitation is in our short-term visual memory. It’s estimated that we can keep track of about four items at a time, fewer if they are complex. This capacity shortage is thought to explain, in part, our astonishing inability to detect even huge changes in scenes that are otherwise identical, so-called “change blindness”. Show people pairs of near-identical photos – say, aircraft engines in one picture have disappeared in the other – and they will fail to spot the differences. Here again, though, there is disagreement about what the essential limiting factor really is. Does it come down to a dearth of storage capacity, or is it about how much attention a viewer is paying?
F A third limitation is that choosing a response to a stimulus – braking when you see a child in the road, for instance, or replying when your mother tells you over the phone that she’s thinking of leaving your dad – also takes brainpower. Selecting a response to one of these things will delay by some tenths of a second your ability to respond to the other. This is called the “response selection bottleneck” theory, first proposed in 1952.
G But David Meyer, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, doesn’t buy the bottleneck idea. He thinks dual-task interference is just evidence of a strategy used by the brain to prioritise multiple activities. Meyer is known as something of an optimist by his peers. He has written papers with titles like “Virtually perfect time-sharing in dual-task performance: Uncorking the central cognitive bottleneck”. His experiments have shown that with enough practice – at least 2000 tries – some people can execute two tasks simultaneously as competently as if they were doing them one after the other. He suggests that there is a central cognitive processor that coordinates all this and, what’s more, he thinks it used discretion: sometimes it chooses to delay one task while completing another.
H Marois agrees that practice can sometimes erase interference effects. He has found that with just 1 hour of practice each day for two weeks, volunteers show a huge improvement at managing both his tasks at once. Where he disagrees with Meyer is in what the brain is doing to achieve this. Marois speculates that practice might give us the chance to find less congested circuits to execute a task – rather like finding trusty back streets to avoid heavy traffic on main roads – effectively making our response to the task subconscious. After all, there are plenty of examples of subconscious multitasking that most of us routinely manage: walking and talking, eating and reading, watching TV and folding the laundry.
I It probably comes as no surprise that, generally speaking, we get worse at multitasking as we age. According to Art Kramer at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign, who studies how ageing affects our cognitive abilities, we peak in our 20s. Though the decline is slow through our 30s and on into our 50s, it is there; and after 55, it becomes more precipitous. In one study, he and his colleagues had both young and old participants do a simulated driving task while carrying on a conversation. He found that while young drivers tended to miss background changes, older drivers failed to notice things that were highly relevant. Likewise, older subjects had more trouble paying attention to the more important parts of a scene than young drivers.
J It’s not all bad news for over-55s, though. Kramer also found that older people can benefit from the practice. Not only did they learn to perform better, but brain scans also showed that underlying that improvement was a change in the way their brains become active. While it’s clear that practice can often make a difference, especially as we age, the basic facts remain sobering. “We have this impression of an almighty complex brain,” says Marois, “and yet we have very humbling and crippling limits.” For most of our history, we probably never needed to do more than one thing at a time, he says, and so we haven’t evolved to be able to. Perhaps we will in future, though. We might yet look back one day on people like Debbie and Alun as ancestors of a new breed of true multitaskers.
The Reading Passage has ten paragraphs A-J. Which paragraph contains the following information? Write the correct letter A-J, in boxes 1-5 on your answer sheet.
1. A theory explained delay happens when selecting one reaction
2. Different age group responds to important things differently
3. Conflicts happened when visual and audio element emerge simultaneously
4. An experiment designed to demonstrates the critical part of the brain for multitasking
5. A viewpoint favors the optimistic side of multitasking performance
Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.
6. Which one is correct about the experiment conducted by René Marois?
A participants performed poorly on the listening task solely
B volunteers press a different key on different color
C participants need to use different fingers on the different colored object
D they did a better fob on Mixed image and sound information
7. Which statement is correct about the first limitation of Marois’s experiment?
A “attentional blink” takes about ten seconds
B lag occurs if we concentrate on one object while the second one appears
C we always have trouble in reaching the second one
D first limitation can be avoided by certain measures
8. Which one is NOT correct about Meyer’s experiments and statements?
A just after failure in several attempts can people execute dual-task
B Practice can overcome dual-task interference
C Meyer holds a different opinion on Marois’s theory
D an existing processor decides whether to delay another task or not
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage? In boxes 9-13 on your answer sheet, write
YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer
NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer
NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this
9. The longer gap between two presenting tasks means shorter delay toward the second one.
10. Incapable of human memory cause people to sometimes miss the differences when presented two similar images.
11. Marois has a different opinion on the claim that training removes the bottleneck effect.
12. Art Kramer proved there is a correlation between multitasking performance and genders
13. The author doesn’t believe that the effect of practice could bring any variation.
A decibel Hell (The Effects of Living in a Noisy World)
Section A decibel Hell:
It’s not difficult for a person to encounter sound at levels that can cause adverse health effects. During a single day, people living in a typical urban environment can experience a wide range of sounds in many locations, even once-quiet locales have become polluted with noise. In fact, it’s difficult today to escape sound completely. In its 1999 Guidelines for Community Noise, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared, “Worldwide, noise-induced hearing impairment is the most prevalent irreversible occupational hazard, and it is estimated that 120 million people worldwide have disabling hearing difficulties.” Growing evidence also points to many other health effects of too much volume.
Mark Stephenson, a Cincinnati, Ohio-based senior research audiologist at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), says his agency’s definition of hazardous noise is sound that exceeds the time-weighted average of 85 dBA, meaning the average noise exposure measured over a typical eight-hour workday. Other measures and definitions are used for other purposes.
Section B Growing Volume
In the United States, about 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous sound levels on the job, according to NIOSH. Industries having a high number of workers exposed to loud sounds include construction, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, utilities, transportation, and the military.
Noise in U.S. industry is an extremely difficult problem to monitor, acknowledges Craig Moulton, a senior industrial hygienist for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). “Still,” he says, “OSHA does require that any employer with workers overexposed to noise provide protection for those employees against the harmful effects of noise. Additionally, employers must implement a continuing, effective hearing conservation program as outlined in OSHA’s Noise Standard.”
Section C Scary Sound Effects
Numerous scientific studies over the years have confirmed that exposure to certain levels of sound can damage hearing. Prolonged exposure can actually change the structure of the hair cells in the inner ear, resulting in hearing loss. It can also cause tinnitus, a ringing, roaring, buzzing, or clicking on the ears.
NIOSH studies from the mid to late 1990s show that 90% of coal miners have hearing impairment by age 52 – compared to 9% of the general population – and 70% of male metal/nonmetal miners will experience hearing impairment by age 60 (Stephenson notes that from adolescence onward, females tend to have better hearing than males). Neitzel says nearly half of all construction workers have some degree of hearing loss. “NIOSH research also reveals that by age twenty-five, the average carpenter’s hearing is equivalent to an otherwise healthy fifty-year-old male who hasn’t been exposed to noise,” he says.
William Luxford, medical director of the House Ear Clinic of St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, points out one piece of good news: “It’s true that continuous noise exposure will lead to the continuation of hearing loss, but as soon as the exposure is stopped, the hearing loss stops. So a change in environment can improve a person’s hearing health.”
Research is catching up with this anecdotal evidence. In the July 2001 issue of Pediatrics, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, based on audiometric testing of 5,249 children as part of the Third National Health and Nutrition, Examination Survey, an estimated 12.5% of American children have noise-induced hearing threshold shifts – or dulled hearing – in one or both ears. Most children with noise-induced hearing threshold shifts have only limited hearing damage, but continued exposure to excessive noise can lead to difficulties with high-frequency sound discrimination. The report listed stereos, music concerts, toys (such as toy telephones and certain rattles), lawnmowers, and fireworks as producing potentially harmful sounds.
Section D Beyond the Ears
The effects of sound don’t stop with the ears. Nonauditory effects of noise exposure are those effects that don’t cause hearing loss but still can be measured, such as elevated blood pressure, loss of sleep, increased heart rate, cardiovascular constriction, labored breathing, and changes in brain chemistry.
The nonauditory effects of noise were noted as early as 1930 in a study published by E.L. Smith and D.L. Laird in volume 2 of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America. The results showed that exposure to noise caused stomach contractions in healthy human beings. Reports on noise’s nonauditory effects published since that pioneering study have been both contradictory and controversial in some areas.
Bronzaft and the school principal persuaded the school board to have acoustical tile installed in the classrooms adjacent to the tracks. The Transit Authority also treated the tracks near the school to make them less noisy. A follow-up study published in the September 1981 issue of the Journal of Environmental Psychology found that children’s reading scores improved after these interventions were put in place.
Section E Fighting for Quiet
Anti-noise activists say that Europe and several countries in Asia are more advanced than the United States in terms of combating noise. “Population pressure has prompted Europe to move more quickly on the noise issue that the United States has,” Hume says. In the European Union, countries with cities of at least 250,000 people are creating noise maps of those cities to help leaders determine noise pollution policies. Paris has already prepared its first noise maps. The map data, which must be finished by 2007, will be fed into computer models that will help test the sound impact of street designs or new buildings before construction begins.
Activists in other countries say they too want the United States to play a more leading role on the noise issue. But as in other areas of environmental health, merely having a more powerful government agency in place that can set more regulations is not the ultimate answer, according to other experts. Bronzaft stresses that governments worldwide need to increase funding for noise research and do a better job coordinating their noise pollution efforts so they can establish health and environmental policies based on solid scientific research. “Governments have a responsibility to protect their citizens by curbing noise pollution,” she says.
Complete the summary below. Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Nowadays it seems difficult for people to avoid the effects of living in a noisy world. Noise is the sound beyond the average of (14) …………………. referring to the agency’s definition. Scientific studies over the years from the mid to late 1990s have confirmed that exposure to certain levels of sound can cause damage (15) ………………….. on certain senior age. From the testing of 5,249 children, those who are constantly exposed to excessive noise may have trouble in (16) ………………. sound discrimination. The effects of sound don’t stop with the ears, exposure to noise may lead to the unease of (17) ………………… a in healthy people. Europe has taken steps on the noise issue, big cities of over 250,000 people are creating (18) …………………. to help to create noise pollution policies.
Look at the following researchers and the list of findings below. Match each researcher with the correct finding. Write the correct letter in boxes 19-23 on your answer sheet.
B William Luxford (the House Ear Clinic)
C Craig Moulton (OSHA)
D Arline Bronzaft
E Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
19. People can change the environment to improve hearing health.
20. The government should continue the research on anti-noise researches with the fund.
21. companies should be required to protect the employees to avoid noise
22. Noise has posed an effect on American children’s hearing ability
23. noise has seriously affected human being where they live worldwide
Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D. Write your answers in boxes 24-26 on your answer sheet.
24. The board of schools built close to the tracks are convinced to
A moved the classrooms away from the noisy track
B regulated the track usage to a less extent
C utilised a special material into classroom buildings lessening the effect of outside noise
D organised a team for a follow-up study
25. In European countries, the big cities’ research on noise focuses on
A How to record pollution details of the city on maps
B the impact of noise on population shift in the European cities
C how wide can a city be to avoid noise pollution
D helping the authorities better make a decision on management of the city
26. What is the best title in paragraph 1?
A How people cope with noise pollutions
B the fight against the noise with the powerful technology
C The Effects of Living in a Noisy World
D The Effects of noise on children’s learning
Is Graffiti Art or Crime
A The term graffiti derives from the Italian graffito meaning ‘scratching’ and can be defined as uninvited marking or writing scratched or applied to objects, built structures and natural features. It is not a new phenomenon: examples can be found on ancient structures around the world, in some cases predating the Greeks and Romans. In such circumstances it has acquired invaluable historical and archaeological significance, providing a social history of life and events at that time. Graffiti is now a problem that has become pervasive, as a result of the availability of cheap and quick means of mark-making.
B It is usually considered a priority to remove graffiti as quickly as possible after it appears. This is for several reasons. The first is to prevent ‘copy-cat’ emulation which can occur rapidly once a clean surface is defaced. It may also be of a racist or otherwise offensive nature and many companies and councils have a policy of removing this type of graffiti within an hour or two of it being reported. Also, as paints, glues and inks dry out over time they can become increasingly difficult to remove and are usually best dealt with as soon as possible after the incident. Graffiti can also lead to move serious forms of vandalism and, ultimately, the deterioration of an area, contributing to social decline.
C Although graffiti may be regarded as an eyesore, any proposal to remove it from sensitive historic surfaces should be carefully considered: techniques designed for more robust or utilitarian surfaces may result in considerable damage. In the event of graffiti incidents, it is important that the owners of buildings or other structures and their consultants are aware of the approach they should take in dealing with the problem. The police should be informed as there may be other related attacks occurring locally. An incidence pattern can identify possible culprits, as can stylised signatures or nicknames, known as ‘tags’, which may already be familiar to local police. Photographs are useful to record graffiti incidents and may assist the police in bringing a prosecution. Such images are also required for insurance claims and can be helpful in cleaning operatives, allowing them to see the problem area before arriving on site.
D There are a variety of methods that are used to remove graffiti. Broadly these divide between chemical and mechanical systems. Chemical preparations are based on dissolving the media; these solvents can range from water to potentially hazardous chemical ‘cocktails’. Mechanical systems such as wire-brushing and grit-blasting attempt to abrade or chip the media from the surface. Care should be taken to comply with health and safety legislation with regard to the protection of both passers-by and any person carrying out the cleaning. Operatives should follow product guidelines in terms of application and removal, and wear the appropriate protective equipment. Measures must be taken to ensure that run-off, aerial mists, drips and splashes do not threaten unprotected members of the public. When examining a graffiti incident it is important to assess the ability of the substrate to withstand the prescribed treatment. If there is any doubt regarding this, then small trial areas should be undertaken to assess the impact of more extensive treatment.
E A variety of preventive strategies can be adopted to combat a recurring problem of graffiti at a given site. As no two sites are the same, no one set of protection measures will be suitable for all situations. Each site must be looked at individually. Surveillance systems such as closed-circuit television may also help. In cities and towns around the country, prominently placed cameras have been shown to reduce anti-social behavior of all types including graffiti. Security patrols will also act as a deterrent to prevent recurring attacks. However, the cost of this may be too high for most situations. A physical barriers such as a wall, railings, doors or gates can be introduced to discourage unauthorized access to a vulnerable site. However, consideration has to be given to the impact measures have on the structure being protected. In the worst cases, they can be almost as damaging to the quality of the environment as the graffiti they prevent. In others, they might simply provide a new surface for graffiti.
F One of the most significant problems associated with graffiti removal is the need to remove it from surfaces that are repeatedly attacked. Under these circumstances, the repeated removal of graffiti using even the most gentle methods will ultimately cause damage to the surface material. There may be situations where the preventive strategies mentioned above do not work or are not a viable proposition at a given site. Anti-graffiti coatings are usually applied by brush or spray leaving a thin veneer that essentially serves to isolate the graffiti from the surface.
G Removal of graffiti from a surface that has been treated in this way is much easier, usually using low-pressure water which reduces the possibility of damage. Depending on the type of barrier selected it may be necessary to reapply the coating after each graffiti removal exercise.
Reading passage has seven paragraphs, A-G. Which paragraph contains the following information? Write the correct letter, A-G, in boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet. NB You may use any letter more than once.
27. why chemically cleaning graffiti may cause damage
28. the benefit of a precautionary strategy on the gentle removal
29. the damaging and accumulative impact of graffiti on the community
30. the need for different preventive measures being taken to cope with graffiti
31. a legal proposal made to the owner of building against graffiti
32. the reasons for removing graffiti as soon as possible.
Choose TWO letters, A-E. Write your answers in boxes 33-34 on your answer sheet.
Which two statements are true concerning the removal of graffiti
A cocktail removal can be safer than water treatment
B small patch trial before applying large scale of removing
C chemical treatments are the most expensive way of removing
D there are risks for both chemical and medication method
E mechanical removals are much more applicable than chemical treatments
Choose TWO letters, A-E. Write your answers in boxes 35-36 on your answer sheet.
Which TWO of the following preventive measures against graffiti are mentioned effectively in the passage?
A organise more anti-graffiti movement in city communities
B increase police patrols on street
C build a new building with material repelling to water
D installing more visible security cameras
E provide a whole new surface with chemical coat
Complete the Summary of the paragraphs of Reading Passage. Use NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
Ancient graffiti is of significance and records the (37) ………………… of details life for that period.
The police can recognize newly committed incidents of graffiti by the signature which is called (38) ………………. that they are familiar with Operatives ought to comply with relevant rules during the operation, and put on the suitable (39) ………………….. Removal of graffiti from a new type of coating surface can be much convenient of using (40) …………………