Send to

Choose Destination
Atten Percept Psychophys. 2015 Feb;77(2):483-92. doi: 10.3758/s13414-014-0776-2.

Load-induced inattentional deafness.

Author information

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, United Kingdom,


High perceptual load in a task is known to reduce the visual perception of unattended items (e.g., Lavie, Beck, & Konstantinou, 2014). However, it remains an open question whether perceptual load in one modality (e.g., vision) can affect the detection of stimuli in another modality (e.g., hearing). We report four experiments that establish that high visual perceptual load leads to reduced detection sensitivity in hearing. Participants were requested to detect a tone that was presented during performance of a visual search task of either low or high perceptual load (varied through item similarity). The findings revealed that auditory detection sensitivity was consistently reduced with higher load, and that this effect persisted even when the auditory detection response was made first (before the search response) and when the auditory stimulus was highly expected (50 % present). These findings demonstrate a phenomenon of load-induced deafness and provide evidence for shared attentional capacity across vision and hearing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center