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Heng Zou, Hermann J. Müller, Zhuanghua Shi; Non-spatial sounds regulate eye movements and enhance visual search. Journal of Vision 2012;12(5):2. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.5.2.
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Spatially uninformative sounds can enhance visual search when the sounds are synchronized with color changes of the visual target, a phenomenon referred to as “pip-and-pop” effect (van der Burg, Olivers, Bronkhorst, & Theeuwes, 2008). The present study investigated the relationship of this effect to changes in oculomotor scanning behavior induced by the sounds. The results revealed sound events to increase fixation durations upon their occurrence and to decrease the mean number of saccades. More specifically, spatially uninformative sounds facilitated the orientation of ocular scanning away from already scanned display regions not containing a target (Experiment 1) and enhanced search performance even on target-absent trials (Experiment 2). Facilitation was also observed when the sounds were presented 100 ms prior to the target or at random (Experiment 3). These findings suggest that non-spatial sounds cause a general freezing effect on oculomotor scanning behavior, an effect which in turn benefits visual search performance by temporally and spatially extended information sampling.
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