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Target fixation is a process by which the brain is focused so intently on an observed object that awareness of other obstacles or hazards can diminish. Also, in an avoidance scenario, the observer can become so fixated on the target that the observer will end up colliding with the object.

This is a common issue for motorcyclists and mountain bikers. A motorcycle or bicycle will tend to go where the rider is looking; if the rider is overly focused on an obstacle (puddle of oil, tree, branch, patch of sand, small child, etc), the cycle can collide with that object simply because of the rider's focus on it, even though the rider is trying to avoid it.

The term "target fixation" may have been borrowed from World War II fighter pilots, who spoke of a tendency to want to fly into targets during a strafing run. For instance, it is believed that a previous head injury to Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, caused the famed flying ace to develop that process that caused him to disregard proper caution and become an easy target for Australian machine gunners and fighter pilot, Roy Brown to fatally bring him down.


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