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Effects of Attention on Change Deafness

Detecting acoustic changes in our environment, such as a rattlesnake’s sudden approach, can be essential for survival. Although auditory change detection has been intensively investigated using sequentially-presented sounds, very little is known about how we detect changes in a natural, complex scene comprised of multiple concurrent sounds. The present study used a location-switch change deafness paradigm; on each trial, participants listened to two consecutive auditory scenes, consisting of three natural sounds played in distinct locations, and reported if the two scenes were the same or identified the two sounds that switched locations. Directing a listener’s attention to a changing sound improved accuracy and decreased reaction time, relative to uncued trials. However, when participants’ attention was invalidly directed to a non-changing sound object, performance suffered. Further analyses showed that these effects could not be explained by energetic masking. Thus, attention is necessary for change identification in complex auditory scenes.
Date14 December 2010
CreatorsBacker, Kristina Carol
ContributorsAlain, Claude
Source SetsUniversity of Toronto
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeThesis, Image

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