July 2013
Volume 13, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2013
The Development of Cross-Modal Attention: When can a sound impair visual detection?
Author Affiliations
  • Vivian Ciaramitaro
    Psychology Department, The University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Karen Dobkins
    Psychology Department, University of California San Diego
Journal of Vision July 2013, Vol.13, 887. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.887
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      Vivian Ciaramitaro, Karen Dobkins; The Development of Cross-Modal Attention: When can a sound impair visual detection?. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):887. https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.887.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Previous studies in adults suggest that auditory information can influence the detectability of visual information (for example, Stein et al., 1996; Lovelace et al., 2003; Oodgard et al., 2003; 3004). Little is known regarding the development of such influences. Here we investigate whether auditory cues can alter visual detectability in 3- and 6-month old infants. We used forced choice-preferential looking (FPL) to obtain contrast detection thresholds for a visual stimulus, a square (11x11[sup]0[/sup], centered 15[sup]0[/sup] left or right of monitor center. The visual stimulus fluctuated in luminance at 1 Hz, under four different auditory conditions: (1) IP: an auditory stimulus, white noise modulating in loudness at 1 Hz, fluctuated in-phase with the visual stimulus, (2) OP: the auditory stimulus fluctuated out-of-phase with the same visual stimulus, (3) NS: no auditory stimulus was presented, or (4) CS: a constant auditory stimulus was presented. The visual stimulus was presented at one of five contrasts, randomized across trials. Threshold was defined as the contrast yielding 75% correct performance in the FPL task. For each subject, visual thresholds were obtained for two of the four possible conditions, over the course of 2-3 days. If synchronized auditory information enhances visual detection, we expect lower contrast thresholds for the IP condition relative to the other conditions. Our data in 3- and 6-month-olds show that synchronized auditory information can worsen the detectability of visual stimuli near threshold. Such a counter-intuitive finding can be explained by the reallocation of cross-modal attention. If attention is a limited resource across modalities, a highly salient auditory stimulus can redirect attention away from a near-threshold visual stimulus, worsening visual detectability the most when visual and auditory information are changing in the same way over time (IP).

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013


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