Cognitive control of auditory distraction: Impact of task difficulty, foreknowledge, and working memory capacity supports duplex-mechanism account

R.W. Hughes, Mark Hurlstone, J.E. Marsh, D.M. Jones, F. Vachon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

81 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The influence of top-down cognitive control on 2 putatively distinct forms of distraction was investigated. Attentional capture by a task-irrelevant auditory deviation (e.g.,a female-spoken token following a sequence of male-spoken tokens)-as indexed by its disruption of a visually presented recall task-was abolished when focal-task engagement was promoted either by increasing the difficulty of encoding the visual to-be-remembered stimuli (by reducing their perceptual discriminability; Experiments 1 and 2) or by providing foreknowledge of an imminent deviation (Experiment 2). In contrast, distraction from continuously changing auditory stimuli ("changing-state effect") was not modulated by task-difficulty or foreknowledge (Experiment 3). We also confirmed that individual differences inworking memory capacity-typically associated with maintaining task-engagement in the faceof distraction-predict the magnitude of the deviation effect, but not the changing-state effect. This convergence of experimental and psychometric data strongly supports a duplex-mechanism account of auditory distraction: Auditory attentional capture (deviation effect) is open to top-down cognitive control, whereas auditory distraction caused by direct conflict between the sound and focal-task processing (changing-state effect) is relativelyimmune to such control. © 2012 American Psychological Association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)539-553
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Volume39
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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