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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 3/2014

01-05-2014 | Original Article

Auditory spatial negative priming: What is remembered of irrelevant sounds and their locations?

Auteurs: Susanne Mayr, Malte Möller, Axel Buchner

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 3/2014

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Abstract

The categorization and identification of previously ignored visual or auditory stimuli is typically slowed down—a phenomenon that has been called the negative priming effect and can be explained by the episodic retrieval of response-inadequate prime information and/or an inhibitory model. A similar after-effect has been found in visuospatial tasks: participants are slowed down in localizing a visual stimulus that appears at a previously ignored location. In the auditory modality, however, such an after-effect of ignoring a sound at a specific location has never been reported. Instead, participants are impaired in their localization performance when the sound at the previously ignored location changes identity, a finding which is compatible with the so-called feature-mismatch hypothesis. Here, we describe the properties of auditory spatial in contrast to visuospatial negative priming and report two experiments that specify the nature of this auditory after-effect. Experiment 1 shows that the detection of identity-location mismatches is a genuinely auditory phenomenon that can be replicated even when the sound sources are invisible. Experiment 2 reveals that the detection of sound-identity mismatches in the probe depends on the processing demands in the prime. This finding implies that the localization of irrelevant sound sources is not the inevitable consequence of processing the auditory prime scenario but depends on the difficulty of the target search process among distractor sounds.
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1
Note that direct comparisons between ignored repetition and attended repetition trials are ambiguous because they do not only differ in whether there is a stimulus and/or location repetition of the to-be-ignored or the to-be-attended sound. What is more, attended repetition and ignored repetition trials also differ in whether they contain a response repetition or not. As a consequence, performance differences between ignored and attended repetition trials can be the result of differences in (a) attentional allocation to the identity and/or location repetitions, (b) response repetition, and/or (c) interactions between both variables. Since our focus was on the after-effects of ignoring sounds at spatial positions and given the interpretational problems in comparing attended and ignored repetition trials, we decided to restrict all analyses reported to the ignored repetition design.
 
2
Figure 1 indicates that the marginally non-significant comparison between sound-repeated, location-changed trials and sound-changed, location-changed control trials was due to the visible loudspeakers group whereas the concealed loudspeakers group showed a clear slow-down for sound-repeated, location-changed mismatch trials. Note that we have found evidence of this type of a feature-mismatch in a previous, almost-identical experiment with loudspeaker visibility (Mayr, Buchner, et al., 2011). While we cannot exclude that there might be a substantial explanation for the absence of a slow-down in sound-repeated, location-changed trials in the visible loudspeakers group of the present experiment, we think it best to attribute this datapoint to a type two error.
 
3
Data from an as-yet-unpublished experiment of our group show that the spatial separation between two sound sources improves detection performance of a to-be-searched musical instrument when the musical sounds are of high spectral similarity (same fundamental frequency). When the sounds differed in their spectral properties (different fundamentals; 330 and 466 Hz), the spatial separation of the two sounds did not increase the sensitivity of target detection. In line with the existing literature, stream segregation in this task seems to be solved based on the spectral information when possible. Only when the frequency-based segregation of sound sources turns extremely difficult, spatial cues are taken into account.
 
4
This comparison process is probably most similar to what Bregman (1990) described as a schema-driven process of auditory scene analysis that looks for matching patterns between representations of earlier acoustic experiences and the present sound wave mixture. This mode of analysis stands in contrast to a preattentive process that segments the acoustic input based on its physical similarities and dissimilarities following gestalt principles (see Alain & Arnott, 2000).
 
5
Note that there was a (non-significant) tendency to be slowed down in probe responding for the auditory as compared to the visual prime cue group. Although not statistically significant, such an effect would not have been surprising. Keep in mind that the two prime cue groups did only differ with respect to the modality of the prime cue, not the probe cue. The probe cuing was always visual. This implies that participants in the auditory prime cue group had to switch from auditory prime to visual probe cuing which was certainly more demanding than the task in the visual prime cue group with visual cues in prime and probe.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
Auditory spatial negative priming: What is remembered of irrelevant sounds and their locations?
Auteurs
Susanne Mayr
Malte Möller
Axel Buchner
Publicatiedatum
01-05-2014
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 3/2014
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-013-0515-7

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