Our Brains And Both Ambigrams and Background Noise

[Ed. note: Cross-posted at Vermont: Now and Zen.]

Julie in VT posting at Reason and Brimstone provides a couple of fascinating items I encourage you to explore.

First, she introduces us to ambigrams, or an image that can be "viewed in more than one way based upon how you perceive it." I've copied her example image here.

Then Julie tells us about new information re: how our brains process or tune out background noise:

Last year, Live Science published a nice little summary article (How the Brain Tunes Out Background Noise) about our mental process and how our perceptual process will tend to phase out the aspects of our surroundings which are routine or predictable:
    The "novelty detector neurons," as researchers call them, quickly stop firing if a sound or sound pattern is repeated. They will briefly resume firing if some aspect of the sound changes. The neurons can detect changes in pitch, loudness or duration of a single sound and can also note shifts in the pattern of a complex series of sounds.

    "It is probably a good thing to have this ability because it allows us to tune out background noises like the humming of a car's motor while we are driving or the regular tick-tock of a clock," said study team member Ellen Covey, a psychology professor at the University of Washington. "But at the same time, these neurons would instantly draw a person's attention if their car's motor suddenly made a strange noise or if their cell phone rang."
I'm interested in how this applies to driving-- there's a lot we need to attend to, as drivers, and a lot we don't even notice on a conscious level. How much of what we do when driving is necessary and how much of it is background? Do some people tend to have more trouble with the distractions than others? Do some of us have the ability to better distinguish background noise from necessary information?