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Publication Detail
Processing of irrelevant visual motion during performance of an auditory attention task.
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Rees G, Frith C, Lavie N
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    937, 949
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  • Keywords:
    Adult, Attention, Auditory Perception, Female, Humans, Male, Motion Perception, Task Performance and Analysis, Tomography, Emission-Computed, Voice
The extent to which irrelevant perception of visual motion distractors can be modulated by manipulating auditory load in a relevant task was assessed with Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and behavioural experiments. Subjects performed an auditory task and ignored an irrelevant visual motion stimulus, under two conditions. In a low load condition, subjects were asked to detect words spoken in a loud voice among words spoken in a quiet voice, while in a high load condition they attempted to detect bisyllabic words among monosyllabic and trisyllabic words. We found that motion-related visual areas were strongly activated by the irrelevant motion stimulus, compared to a static stimulus, under both conditions of load in the auditory task. In a second behavioural experiment, the duration of the motion after-effect was similarly unaffected by adaptation under low or high auditory load. These results are in clear contrast with the strong modulation of irrelevant motion processing by visual load, as reflected in the duration of the motion after effect (Section 6) and neural responses in motion-related visual areas (Rees et al., Science, (1997) 278, 338). These findings support the claim that attentional capacity is restricted within but not between sensory modalities, and indicate that processing of visual distractors may occur whenever there is sufficient visual capacity to process them, despite being task- and modality-irrelevant.
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