The influence of acoustic background on visual Stroop task performance

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Wallace, Marc
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Living environments are seldom, if ever, devoid of all background auditory stimuli. However, the relationship between particular structural components of acoustic backgrounds and cognitive task performance remains unclear. Two experiments were completed to examine the influence of sound on a visual selective attention task. Participants performed the Stroop task (Stroop, 1935) while silence or background acoustic patterns of various complexities were presented over headphones. No effect of background sound on performance was found. A post-hoc analysis indicated that in comparison with participants who do not regularly listen to music while studying, participants who regularly listen to music while studying performed better on the Stroop task when a structured auditory pattern that included variation in both frequency and time interval was presented in the background. These results indicate that distinct structural components of background auditory sequences may interact with individual characteristics to influence cognitive performance on a task involving selective attention.
Stroop task, audition, Cognitive Psychology, sound, auditory patterns, selective attention, music, study preference