Auditory attention is divisible: segregated tone streams can be tracked simultaneously.

Laurent Demany, Mayalen Erviti, Catherine Semal
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 2015-01-01; 41(2): 356-363
DOI: 10.1037/a0038932

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1. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2015 Apr;41(2):356-63. doi: 10.1037/a0038932.
Epub 2015 Mar 9.

Auditory attention is divisible: segregated tone streams can be tracked

Demany L(1), Erviti M(1), Semal C(2).

Author information:
(1)Université de Bordeaux.
(2)Institut Polytechnique de Bordeaux.

Can auditory attention be split? We addressed this question using rapid sequences
of tones alternating in frequency between 2 remote registers. In these rapid
sequences, consecutive tones could not be perceptually linked; the tones were
instead inevitably segregated into 2 concurrent melodic streams. Listeners had to
determine if the 2 melodies interleaved in a sequence were exact transpositions
of each other or not. This task could be performed successfully. More crucially,
performance was better when each component tone of 1 melody was immediately
transposed in the other melody than when component i of 1 melody was a
transposition of component i-1 of the other melody. Nevertheless, because the
melodies were segregated, listeners were unable to determine which was the
leading melody when 2 interleaved melodies were immediate transpositions of each
other. Our results are inconsistent with the hypothesis that listeners compared
concurrent melodic streams using a memory-based serial-processing strategy. It
instead appears that listeners were able to track such streams in parallel.
Therefore, attention can be split between concurrent sensory streams even when
the physical entities making up these streams do not overlap in time.

(c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1037/a0038932
PMID: 25751038 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus