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Publication Detail
Does Recovering Sound Sources from Embedded Repetition Require Directed Attention?
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Masutomi K, Overath T, Kashino M, Mcdermott J, Chait M
  • Publication date:
  • Name of conference:
    Annual meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology
  • Conference start date:
McDermott et al. (ref.) demonstrated that listeners can identify novel “target” sounds from mixtures if they are presented multiple times across different distractors, even in conditions where single mixtures were impossible to segregate. Their results indicate that the auditory system can recover sound sources from mixtures by detecting repeating spectro-temporal structure embedded in the acoustic input. In the present series of experiments we aim to investigate whether this repetition-based sound segregation requires selective attention to sounds or whether it can occur partially outside the focus of attention. The latter possibility would provide support for its role as an automatic, bottom-up process. We adapted the protocol of McDermott et al. to a dual task design. Trials consisted of fifteen sound mixtures, each composed of a repeating target and a distractor that changed from mixture to mixture. Participants judged whether a subsequently presented probe appeared in the mixtures. Participants concurrently watched a rapid sequence of serially presented visual stimuli (digits in different colors). One group of participants was required to detect the appearance of a specific digit (‘low load’). Another group of listeners was required to memorize a subset of the digits (e.g. those colored blue) and subsequently report the order (‘high load’). The high load task requires significant attentional and echoic memory resources and thus served to focus processing resources away from the auditory modality. This study is ongoing. Pilot experiments (N = 10) demonstrated that the average performance on the auditory task (d’ = 1.35) was significantly better than chance (P < 0.0001) even when listeners perform the high load visual task, suggesting that listeners can segregate novel sounds from mixtures when attention is directed elsewhere. Full results including appropriate controls will be presented.
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