Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Target Localization among Concurrent Sound Sources: No Evidence for the Inhibition of Previous Distractor Responses

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Target Localization among Concurrent Sound Sources: No Evidence for the Inhibition of Previous Distractor Responses

Article excerpt

Abstract The visuospatial negative priming effect-that is, the slowed-down responding to a previously ignored location-is partly due to response inhibition associated with the previously ignored location (Buckolz, Goldfarb, & Khan, Perception & Psychophysics 66:837-845 2004). We tested whether response inhibition underlies spatial negative priming in the auditory modality as well. Eighty participants localized a target sound while ignoring a simultaneous distractor sound at another location. Eight possible sound locations were arranged in a semicircle around the participant. Pairs of adjacent locations were associated with the same response. On ignored repetition trials, the probe target sound was played from the same location as the previously ignored prime sound. On response control trials, prime distractor and probe target were played from different locations but were associated with the same response. On control trials, prime distractor and probe target shared neither location nor response. A response inhibition account predicts sloweddown responding when the response associatedwith the prime distractor has to be executed in the probe. There was no evidence of response inhibition in audition. Instead, the negative priming effect depended on whether the sound at the repeatedly occupied location changed identity between prime and probe. The latter result replicates earlier findings and supports the feature mismatching hypothesis, while the former is compatible with the assumption that response inhibition is irrelevant in auditory spatial attention.

Keywords Attention: selective. Attention: space-based. Audition

Published online: 18 October 2012

# Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2012

Responding to the identity of a stimulus that was ignored in a previous presentation is overall slowed down-and often more error prone-than responding to a stimulus that was not part of a previous presentation. This phenomenon, termed the identity negative priming effect, is widely used to study mechanisms of selective attention and memory that allow goal-directed behavior in multistimulus environments (for reviews, see Fox, 1995; Mayr & Buchner, 2007; Tipper, 2001). Identity negative priming is typically investigated by simultaneously presenting target and distractor stimuli that have to be distinguished on the basis of a feature such as color. A response is based on the identity of the stimulus.

In the spatial variant of the negative priming task, participants are required to locate a predefined target in the presence of a distractor. On ignored repetition trials, the probe target is presented at the spatial location of the previous prime distractor. On control trials, there is no repetition of stimulus locations between successive prime-probe trials. Typically, ignored repetition trials result in prolonged response times, as compared with control trials, constituting the spatial negative priming effect (Chao, 2009; Milliken, Tipper, & Weaver, 1994; Tipper, Brehaut, & Driver, 1990), while accuracy is not necessarily impaired (Christie & Klein, 2008; Fitzgeorge & Buckolz, 2008; Guy, Buckolz, & Pratt, 2004). The spatial negative priming paradigm serves as a useful instrument for identifying how the cognitive system deals with objects appearing at to-be-ignored locations while attention is focused on task-relevant information at other positions in space. The explanations of the spatial negative priming effect resemble those accounts that have been put forward to explain identitybased negative priming: The inhibition account posits that the spatial representation of distractors is selectively inhibited (Milliken, Tipper, Houghton, & Lupiáñez, 2000; Tipper et al., 1990). Alternatively, the episodic retrieval account posits that the retrieval of prime episodes is triggered by presenting a probe target at the location of the prime distractor (Neill & Valdes, 1992; Neill, Valdes, Terry, & Gorfein, 1992), which serves as a retrieval cue to the prime episode. …

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