Listeners can reliably attend to one auditory object in the presence of many, but how good are they at dividing their attention among multiple auditory objects in a crowded auditory environment? Previously, divided attention has been looked at under the “spotlight” model of attention, borrowed from vision research, which predicts enhancement of specific spatial regions. However, the details of how these spotlights are deployed remain unknown. Here we used six competing auditory objects (distributed in azimuth in one experiment and in pitch in the other) and asked listeners to attend some and ignore others. Whether or not the target objects were contiguous tested whether they employed a single spotlight of varying size, or multiple spotlights with varying degrees of separation. Results suggest that listeners can reliably attend to multiple auditory objects. However, the level of accuracy was dependent upon the number of attended targets and their configuration.
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Selective and divided attention: Spatial and pitch “spotlights” in a non-semantic task
Lindsey Kishline, Eric Larson, Ross K. Maddox, Adrian KC Lee; Selective and divided attention: Spatial and pitch “spotlights” in a non-semantic task. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 1 November 2013; 134 (5_Supplement): 4230. https://doi.org/10.1121/1.4831543
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