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Attention capture by novel sounds: Distraction versus facilitation

SanMiguel, Iria, Linden, David Edmund Johannes and Escera, Carles 2010. Attention capture by novel sounds: Distraction versus facilitation. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 22 (4) , pp. 481-515. 10.1080/09541440902930994

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Unexpected sounds have been shown to capture attention, triggering an orienting response. However, opposing effects of this attention capture on the performance of a concomitant visual task have been reported, in some instances leading to distraction and in others to facilitation. Moreover, the orienting response towards the unexpected stimuli can be modulated by working memory (WM) load, but the direction of this modulation has been another issue of controversy. In four experiments, we aimed to establish the critical factors that determine whether novel sounds facilitate or disrupt task performance and the modulation of these effects by WM load. Depending on the overall attentional demands of the task, novel sounds led to faster or slower responses. WM load attenuated novel sound effects, independent of their direction (facilitation or distraction). We propose a model by which the unexpected stimuli always generate the same orienting response but result in distraction or facilitation depending critically on the attentional focusing induced by the task at hand and the temporal relationship between the irrelevant and task-related stimuli.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Neuroscience and Mental Health Research Institute (NMHRI)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0954-1446
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 08:37

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