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J Vis. 2008 May 7;8(5):2.1-10. doi: 10.1167/8.5.2.

Audiovisual events capture attention: evidence from temporal order judgments.

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Department of Cognitive Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Is an irrelevant audiovisual event able to guide attention automatically? In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were asked to make a temporal order judgment (TOJ) about which of two dots (left or right) appeared first. In Experiment 3, participants were asked to make a simultaneity judgment (SJ) instead. Such tasks have been shown to be affected by attention. Lateral to each of the dots, nine irrelevant distractors continuously changed color. Prior to the presentation of the first dot, a spatially non-informative tone was synchronized with the color change of one of these distractors, either on the same side or on the opposite side of the first dot. Even though both the tone and the distractors were completely irrelevant to the task, TOJs were affected by the synchronized distractor. TOJs were not affected when the tone was absent or synchronized with distractors on both sides. SJs were also affected by the synchronized distractor, ruling out an alternative response bias hypothesis. We conclude that audiovisual synchrony guides attention in an exogenous manner.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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