Previous research has demonstrated that detection of certain stimuli can be increased or decreased by a manipulation of attentional load during a target task. While much of this research focuses on sensory attention, there is some debate regarding whether the effect can be seen across sensory modalities (Kahneman, 1973), or only within the same sensory modality (Wickens, 1980). Additionally, it is unclear whether the effect can be applied to audition. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether irrelevant tactile distractors would be ignored or detected under various levels of auditory stimulation (‘load’). It was predicted that vibrotactile distractors would be more frequently processed under low auditory load conditions, and more frequently missed under high auditory load conditions. There was a total of 80 participants (58 female). Following Fairnie et al. (2016), auditory load took the form of an auditory search task which utilized various animal sounds. Load was manipulated in three conditions (high, low, control) through the number of animal sounds involved in the task. Simultaneously, participants were asked to report on any detection of concurrent vibrotactile stimuli (Murphy & Dalton, 2016). A one-way ANCOVA revealed that participants were more likely to miss tactile stimuli under high or low load than in the control condition. This was in partial support of the study’s hypothesis, which had predicted that increased auditory load would cause a decrease in identification of tactile stimuli. Implications of these results are discussed.
Bowar, Stephanie C.
"Selective Tactile Attention Under Auditory Perceptual Load,"
Oglethorpe Journal of Undergraduate Research: Vol. 7:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/ojur/vol7/iss1/3