The Role of Selective Attention in Cross-modal Interactions between Auditory and Visual Features

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Evans and Treisman (2010) showed systematic interactions between audition and vision when participants made
speeded classifications in one modality while supposedly ignoring another. We found perceptual facilitation
between high pitch and high visual position, high spatial frequency and small size, and interference between
high pitch and low position, low spatial frequency and large size, while the converse was the case between low
pitch and the same visual features. The present study examined the role of selective attention in these crossmodal
interactions. Participants performed speeded classification or search tasks of low or high load while
attempting to ignore irrelevant stimuli in a different modality. In both paradigms, congruency between the
visual and the irrelevant auditory stimulus had an equal effect in the low and in the high perceptual load
conditions. A third experiment tested divided attention, requiring participants to compare stimuli across modalities
and respond to the visual-auditory compound. The congruency effect was as large with attention focused
on one modality as when it was divided across both. These findings offer converging evidence that cross-modal
interactions between corresponding basic features are independent of selective attention.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104119
Early online date18 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

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