Cross‑modal perceptual load: the impact of modality and individual differences

Sandhu, Rajwant and Dyson, Benjamin James (2016) Cross‑modal perceptual load: the impact of modality and individual differences. Experimental Brain Research, 234 (5). pp. 1279-1291. ISSN 0014-4819

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Visual distractor processing tends to be more pronounced when the perceptual load (PL) of a task is low compared to when it is high [perpetual load theory (PLT); Lavie in J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 21(3):451–468, 1995]. While PLT is well established in the visual domain, application to cross-modal processing has produced mixed results, and the current study was designed in an attempt to improve previous methodologies. First, we assessed PLT using response competition, a typical metric from the uni-modal domain. Second, we looked at the impact of auditory load on visual distractors, and of visual load on auditory distractors, within the same individual. Third, we compared individual uni- and cross-modal selective attention abilities, by correlating performance with the visual Attentional Network Test (ANT). Fourth, we obtained a measure of the relative processing efficiency between vision and audition, to investigate whether processing ease influences the extent of distractor processing. Although distractor processing was evident during both attend auditory and attend visual conditions, we found that PL did not modulate processing of either visual or auditory distractors. We also found support for a correlation between the uni-modal (visual) ANT and our cross-modal task but only when the distractors were visual. Finally, although auditory processing was more impacted by visual distractors, our measure of processing efficiency only accounted for this asymmetry in the auditory high-load condition. The results are discussed with respect to the continued debate regarding the shared or separate nature of processing resources across modalities.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Cross-modal integration, Selective attention, Perceptual load, Attentional control
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: Q Science > QZ Psychology
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Depositing User: Ben Dyson
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2016 11:54
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2016 12:43
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