Auditory Stimuli Slow Down Responses and First Fixations: Support for Auditory Dominance in Adults


Under some situations sensory modalities compete for attention, with one modality attenuating processing in a second modality. Almost forty years of research with adults has shown that this competition is typically won by the visual modality. Using a discrimination task on an eye tracker, the current research provides novel support for auditory dominance, with words and nonlinguistic sounds slowing down visual processing. At the same time, there was no evidence suggesting that visual input slowed down auditory processing. Several eye tracking variables correlated with behavioral responses. Of particular interest is the finding that adults’ first fixations were delayed when images were paired with auditory input, especially nonlinguistic sounds. This finding is consistent with neurophysiological findings and also consistent with a potential mechanism underlying auditory dominance effects.

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