Broad attention to multiple individual objects may facilitate change detection with complex auditory scenes

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Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance





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Attention and other processing constraints limit the perception of objects in complex scenes, which has been studied extensively in the visual sense. We used a change deafness paradigm to examine how attention to particular objects helps and hurts the ability to notice changes within complex auditory scenes. In a counterbalanced design, we examined how cueing attention to particular objects affected performance in an auditory change-detection task through the use of valid or invalid cues and trials without cues (Experiment 1). We further examined how successful encoding predicted change-detection performance using an object-encoding task and we addressed whether performing the object-encoding task along with the change-detection task affected performance overall (Experiment 2). Participants had more error for invalid compared to valid and uncued trials, but this effect was reduced in Experiment 2 compared to Experiment 1. When the object-encoding task was present, listeners who completed the uncued condition first had less overall error than those who completed the cued condition first. All participants showed less change deafness when they successfully encoded change-relevant compared to irrelevant objects during valid and uncued trials. However, only participants who completed the uncued condition first also showed this effect during invalid cue trials, suggesting a broader scope of attention. These findings provide converging evidence that attention to change-relevant objects is crucial for successful detection of acoustic changes and that encouraging broad attention to multiple objects is the best way to reduce change deafness. © 2016 American Psychological Association.


Attention; Change deafness; Change detection; Cueing; Global-local processing



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