Auditory Overshadowing in Preschoolers: A Preference for the Input, the System, or Both?


Auditory overshadowing occurs when the presence of an auditory stimulus interferes with visual processing. The current study tested whether this occurs due to a privileged attentional status of auditory input or due to the dynamic characteristics of auditory input. To address these questions, preschoolers completed one of four discrimination tasks. In the sound, motion, and item baseline conditions, children discriminated these single information types by judging whether paired stimuli were the same or different. In the combined condition, children discriminated changing sounds, motions, or items in the face of competing input in the other two dimensions. Although children’s discrimination of all information types attenuated in the combined condition relative to baseline, motion and item discrimination attenuated more than auditory discrimination. This provides evidence that early in development auditory information receives privileged processing in the face of competing input.

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