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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2002 Jun;28(3):628-39.

Nonspatial attentional shifts between audition and vision.

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  • 1Department of General Psychology, University of Padua, Italy.


This study investigated nonspatial shifts of attention between visual and auditory modalities. The authors provide evidence that the modality of a stimulus (S1) affected the processing of a subsequent stimulus (S2) depending on whether they shared the same modality. For both vision and audition, the onset of S1 summoned attention exogenously to its modality, causing a delay in processing S2 in a different modality. That undermines the notion that auditory stimuli have a stronger and more automatic alerting effect than visual stimuli (M. I. Posner, M. J. Nissen, & R. M. Klein, 1976). The results are consistent with other recent studies showing cross-modal attentional limitation. The authors suggest that such cross-modal limitation can be produced by simply presenting S1 and S2 in different modalities and that central processing mechanisms are also, at least partially, modality dependent.

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