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Bohan Li, Khena Swallow; Cross-Modal Entrainment in Visual Working Memory and Eye Movements. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1352. doi: 10.1167/17.10.1352.
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Rhythmic stimuli can entrain cortical oscillations and facilitate the processing of information presented at predictable moments in time. Recent data suggest that these effects may be cross-modal: participants respond faster to visual targets presented in sync with an auditory rhythm. In a series of three experiments we first asked whether the effects of rhythmic auditory stimuli on visual processing extend to their encoding into visual working memory (VWM). In Experiment 1, participants heard a series of 10 periodic tones (tone onset interval = 600ms). Following the sequence, an array of 3 or 5 colored squares appeared and participants were instructed to remember the locations and colors of the squares. The interval between the last tone and the array was 523, 600, or 676ms. Participants pressed the space bar as soon as they saw the array and after 1000ms reported the color of a cued square by clicking on a color wheel. If entrainment to a periodic auditory stimulus enhances responses to visual stimuli, response times should be fastest when the tone-array interval was 600ms, rather than 523 or 676ms. However, response times decreased as the tone-array interval increased. In addition, although estimates of the precision and guessing rate of the reported color differed across set sizes, they did not vary across tone-array intervals. Dual-task interference was ruled out in Experiment 2. We next asked whether saccade latency for a visual target presented in sync with periodic auditory or visual stimuli was reduced, as in earlier research. However, in contrast to visual entrainers, saccade latencies were slower, not faster, for visual targets presented in sync with the auditory entrainer. Our results highlight the potential limitations of cross-modal entrainment. We will discuss the need for future studies to explore the degree to which rhythmic stimuli in one modality affect perceptual processing in another.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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