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Jessica Madrid, Arryn Robbins, Michael Hout; Title: Drop the beat & miss T2: How various dimensions of music influence attentional failures. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):438. doi: 10.1167/15.12.438.
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It is well established that emotional distractors enhance attentional control in demanding tasks such as the classic attentional blink paradigm (Olivers & Nieuwenhuis, 2005; Sussman, Heller, Miller, & Mohanty, 2013). By inducing a range of moods using music and memory generation, it has also been shown that the interaction of emotional valence and level of arousal have unique effects on second-target accuracy detection in the attentional blink (Jefferies, Smilek, Eich, & Enns, 2008). However, it is unclear how the specific type of music used to induce mood alters an individual’s attention capabilities. While previous research has focused largely on coarse emotionality of musical selections, the interplay of rhythm and arousal (which can interact to sway emotional reactions) on attention has yet to be addressed. In this investigation, we sought to tease apart how various features of music affect attention by manipulating the accompanying musical selection during an attentional blink task. Our participants were randomly assigned to one of eight experimental conditions in which musical selections encompassed a factorial combination of emotional valence (positive or negative), arousal (high or low), and rhythm (rhythmic or non-rhythmic). Participants were asked to detect two digits in a stream of rapidly presented letters. Our findings replicate prior work (Olivers & Neiuwenhuis, 2005, Jeffries et al., 2008) showing that music has a beneficial effect on attention; participants committed fewer attentional failures while listening to music, relative to a (counterbalanced) no-music baseline block. More importantly, we found that the rhythmicity and valence of music had no affect on attention, but that the level of arousal of the piece, has a negative effect on attention; arousing music increases the size of the attentional blink. This suggests that a wide range of music types may have beneficial effects on attention, with less arousing music providing the attentional benefit.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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