Auditory temporal contextual cueing
Doan, Lori Anne
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When conducting a visual search task participants respond faster to targets embedded in a repeated array of visual distractors compared to targets embedded in a novel array, an effect referred to as contextual cueing. There are no reports of contextual cueing in audition, and generalizing this effect to the auditory domain would provide a new paradigm to investigate similarities, differences, and interactions in visual and auditory processing. In 4 experiments, participants identified a numerical target embedded in a sequence of alphabetic letter distractors. The training phase (Epochs 1, 2, and 3) of all experiments contained repeated sequences, and the testing phase (Epoch 4) contained novel sequences. Temporal contextual cueing was measured as slower response times in Epoch 4 than in Epoch 3. Repeated context was defined by the order of distractor identities and the rhythmic structure of the portion of the sequence immediately preceding the target digit, either together (Experiments 1 and 2) or separately (Experiments 3 and 4). An auditory temporal contextual cueing effect was obtained in Experiments 1, 2, and 4. This is the first report of an auditory temporal contextual cueing effect and, thus, it extends the contextual cueing effect to a new modality. This new experimental paradigm could be useful in furthering our understanding of fundamental auditory processes and could eventually be used to aid in diagnosing language deficits.