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Stimulus-driven spatial attention mechanisisms in audition : evidence from an implicit localization task McDonald, John J.


Four experiments examined the effects of uninformative spatial auditory precues on auditory detection latencies when the decision to respond was based on either spatial or non-spatial criteria. The first experiment used a new technique, called implicit localization, in which observers responded to peripheral targets and refrained from responding to central targets. Response times were initially faster for targets at the cued location than at a contralateral location, suggesting that attention was captured at the spatial position of the cue. This facilitatory effect diminished and even reversed at longer cue-target onset asynchonies (CTOAs), indicating that inhibition of return (IOR) also occurs in audition. These effects were not observed in later experiments when the go/no-go decision was based on target presence (Experiments 2 and 3) or target frequency (Experiment 4). These data indicate that the facilitatory and inhibitory components of covert spatial orienting occur in audition only when spatial information is relevant to the task. They may also provide the first clear evidence of IOR in audition. These findings suggest that implicit localization provides a powerful technique for studying covert spatial attention.

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