Does Audio Frequency affect Directional Spatial-Visual Attention? Essay Example

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1Running head: Does Audio Frequency affect Directional Spatial-Visual Attention?

Does Audio Frequency affect Directional Spatial-Visual Attention?

Does Audio Frequency affect Directional Spatial-Visual Attention?


Audio frequency also referred to as audible frequency is a frequency of oscillation that can be detected by a human ear, usually between 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz. That is, a sound that can be heard by a human ear. Whenever someone hears a sound, his or her visual attention is directed to the location of the sound source (Mossbridge, Grabowecky, & Suzuki, 2011). In fact, various forms of sound can guide visual attention in dissimilar fashions. For instance, a characteristic sound such a moo sound guides our visual attention toward congruent image of a cow even if the sound does not provide location information (Lordanescu et al., 2010; Mossbridge, Grabowecky, & Suzuki, 2011). Characteristic sounds tend to speed up our spatial-visual attention and help us to rapidly locate the target object in a visual-search paradigm (Lordanescu et al., 2010). Natural sounds normally vary in frequency. The purpose of this study is to explore whether audio frequency affect directional spatial-visual attention. Specifically, the current study has hypothesized that audio frequency, whether natural or characteristic, influence directional spatial-visual attention in a visual-search paradigm.

Literature Review

Previous studies on multisensory perception have indicated that audio frequency signals can influence visual perception (Alais & Burr, 2004). This has been shown in a number of tasks including perceptual ambiguity (Battaglia, & Aslin, 2003), motion perception (Alais & Burr, 2004), temporal judgments (Molholm et al., 2004), and spatial judgments (Alais & Burr, 2004). According to Molholm et al. (2004), detection is more accurate and faster for temporally and spatially congruent audiovisual targets as compared to that of unimodal targets (Teder-Salejar et al., 2002), and this has been verified by ERP (event-related potential) data indicating confirmation of early cross-modal interactions (Mossbridge, Grabowecky, & Suzuki, 2011). These outcomes demonstrate that visual processing cannot be detached from other modalities signals and that behavioral performance may be enhanced through audition and vision interactions.

Despite the fact that several audiovisual interactions consist of temporally and spatially coincident stimuli, spatial coincidence does not have to be involved for cross-modal interactions to take place and temporal coincidence alone may be satisfactory. For example, in a speedy serial visual presentation paradigm, a task-irrelevant non-spatial auditory stimulant has been indicated to increase the likelihood of detecting a synchronized visual target once the auditory stimulant is noticeable (Benett & Cortese, 1996). In another illustration employing non-spatial sound, the visual-search paradigm was applied to demonstrate that a transitory auditory stimulant harmonized with an alteration in the visual target may radically enhance visual-search efficiency by forming a ‘pop-out’ outcome (Guzman-Martinez et al., 2012).

In a similar manner, Noesselt et al., (2008) indicate that temporally congruent however spatially non-aligned auditory stimulant improve brief blink detection in a visual stimulant. Additionally, Orchard-Mills, Van der Burg, & Alais (2013) showed multisensory interaction in sensory cortices for tangible and audio stimuli presented concurrently, and not restricted by spatial alignment. The above studies have demonstrated cross-modal interactions on the basis of spatio-temporal congruency by suggesting that temporal mechanisms only can drive cross-modal interactions between touch, audition, and vision and enhance visual performance.

Attention also enhances visual performance (Battaglia, Jacobs, & Aslin, 2003); in fact, paying attention to a specific feature of a visual subject improves processing of all its related features even when they are not relevant to the task (Lordanescu et al., 2010). In a study carried out by Molholm et al. (2004), indicated that this ‘attentional’ spread out across both modalities and space. By the use of event-related potential data, this study suggested that attention allocated voluntarily to a visual event distributed to temporally coincident sounds that were not relevant to the task and separated spatially. Guzman-Martinez et al. (2012) also carried another study based on event-related potential and showed that participants were responding rapidly when the image of a creature and its characteristic sound were presented concurrently than for when targets were presented in a single modality.

Mossbridge, Grabowecky, & Suzuki (2011) claimed that the action by which accompanied visual stimulant can be controlled by a sound that is not relevant to the task takes place in two additive stages. The first stage involves a spread of attention driven by a stimulus that is not dependent on learned associations taking place with presented targets simultaneously. The second stage involves a spread attention driven by representational that is dependent on learned associations. The above studies indicate that auditory information linked to a target can speed detection of the visual target in basic displays. The experiments mentioned previously illustrated that audio stimuli can speed visual-search and improve visual processing through temporal and spatial interactions. Therefore, the aim of this study is to explore whether audio frequency affect directional spatial-visual attention.

Justification of Method

Research into the effects of audio frequency on spatial-visual attention has a huge impact on the development of treatments for central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) including attention deficit disorders associated with it[ CITATION Max02 l 1033 ]. Although there a several measures of CAPD remediation, sound localization, which is related to this study, is one of the best test used to identify central auditory nervous system disorders. Children suffering from CAPD are initially diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and sound localization is good test to diagnose it[ CITATION Max02 l 1033 ]. Sound lateralization and localization is described as the capability of an adult or child to recognize where a sound has arisen in space. Localization is used to distinguish a sound source, like a barking dog or a moving vehicle[ CITATION Max02 l 1033 ]. This is a critical survival skill.

The procedure of this study will be based on the research conducted by Mossbridge, Grabowecky, & Suzuki (2011); however, the study will not involve frequency modulation. The sound (audio frequency) presented will be orthogonally varied preceding a visual probe. This will assist in determining whether audio frequency has an impact on spatial-visual attention. About ten undergraduate students (both male and female) will participate in this study, between the ages of 18-30 years. All the participants are expected to have normal hearing, color vision, and visual acuity. Written consent will be obtained from all the participants before the experiment commences. The consent form to be filled by the intended subjects is as shown in the appendix. The experiment will have to be approved by local ethics committee of the university and the relevant authorities.

The visual stimuli will have a central fixation marker, with four surrounding squares drawn with dark lines alongside a white background. The colors that will be used for the probe circles and reference will be red, yellow, blue, and green. Auditory stimuli will be two loudspeakers. The visual stimuli will be presented through a color monitor, while the audio stimuli will be presented through stereo loudspeakers. Participants will perform several trials similar to those used by Mossbridge, Grabowecky, & Suzuki (2011). Participants would be advised that they would hear sounds in every trial, but the sounds would not be informative. They would be instructed to concentrate on fixating on the fixation marker and ignore the sounds till the probe circles are presented.

Independent and dependent variable (s) and hypothesis (es)

The dependent variable of the study will be the reaction of the participants when the stimuli are presented. The independent variables will be the stimuli, each having different levels. It is hypothesized that audio frequency, whether natural or characteristic, influence directional spatial-visual attention in a visual-search paradigm.


Alais, D., & Burr, D. (2004). The ventriloquist effect results from near-optimal bimodal integration. Current Biology, 14(3), 257-262.

Battaglia, P., Jacobs, R. A., & Aslin, R. N. (2003). Bayesian integration of visual and auditory signals for spatial localization. Journal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics, Image Science & Vision, 20(7), 1391-1397.

Benett, P. J., & Cortese, F. (1996). Masking of spatial frequency in visual memory depends on distal, not retinal, frequency. Vision Research, 36(2), 233-238.

Guzman-Martinez, E., Ortega, L., Grabowecky, M., Mossbridge, J., & Suzuki, S. (2012). Interactive coding of visual spatial frequency and auditory amplitude-modulation rate. Curr Biol, 22(5), 383-388.

Lordanescu, L., Grabowecky, M., Franconeri, S., Theeuwes, J., & Suzuki, S. (2010). Characteristics sounds make you look at target objects more quickly. Perception and Psychophysics, 72(7), 1736-1741.

Molholm, S., Ritter, W., Javitt, D. C., & Foxe, J. J. (2004). Multisensory visual-auditory object recognition in humans: A high-density electrical mapping study. Cerebral Cortex, 14(4), 452-465.

Mossbridge, J. A., Grabowecky, M., & Suzuki, S. (2011). Changes in auditory frequency guide visual-spatial attention. Cognition, 121(1), 133-139.

Noesselt, T., Bergmann, D., Hake, M., Heinze, H. J., & Fendrich, R. (2008). Sound increases the saliency of visual events. Brain Research, 157-163.

Orchard-Mills, E., VAn der Burg, E., & Alais, D. (2013). Amplitude-modulated auditory stimuli influence selection of visual spatial frequencies. Journal of Vision, 13(3), Article 6.

Teder-Salejarvi, W. A., McDonald, J. J., Di Russo, F., & Hillyard, S. A. (2002). An analysis of audio-visual crossmodal integration by means of event-related potential (ERP) recordings. Cognitive Brain Research, 106-114.

Young, M. L. (2002, June 4). Recognizing and treating children with central auditory processing disorders. Retrieved from


Participant Consent Form: Information Sheet

Dear Participant,

We are currently undertaking an investigative study as part of the unit Developmental Psychology at the School of Social Sciences and Psychology, University of Western Sydney. All information will be treated confidentially and will not be used for any other purpose but for completing and discussing our assignment. You will remain anonymous and will not be identifiable in any part of our study. You are welcome to see the information that we have collected before we complete and report our study. Your participation in this study is voluntary and you have the right to withdraw at any time.

If you have any questions or concerns please contact (student name):…………………………………..;

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I_______________________________________ consent to participate in the Developmental Psychology investigative study which includes observations, age appropriate task completions and drawings used for completing a University assignment. I understand that my responses to tasks will be collected by the investigator and reported in academic writing.