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Glatz, Christiane and Chuang, Lewis L. (2019): The time course of auditory looming cues in redirecting visuospatial attention. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 9, 743 [PDF, 1MB]


By orienting attention, auditory cues can improve the discrimination of spatially congruent visual targets. Looming sounds that increase in intensity are processed preferentially by the brain. Thus, we investigated whether auditory looming cues can orient visuo-spatial attention more effectively than static and receding sounds. Specifically, different auditory cues could redirect attention away from a continuous central visuo-motor tracking task to peripheral visual targets that appeared occasionally. To investigate the time course of crossmodal cuing, Experiment 1 presented visual targets at different time-points across a 500 ms auditory cue's presentation. No benefits were found for simultaneous audio-visual cue-target presentation. The largest crossmodal benefit occurred at early cue-target asynchrony onsets (i.e., CTOA = 250 ms), regardless of auditory cue type, which diminished at CTOA = 500 ms for static and receding cues. However, auditory looming cues showed a late crossmodal cuing benefit at CTOA = 500 ms. Experiment 2 showed that this late auditory looming cue benefit was independent of the cue's intensity when the visual target appeared. Thus, we conclude that the late crossmodal benefit throughout an auditory looming cue's presentation is due to its increasing intensity profile. The neural basis for this benefit and its ecological implications are discussed.

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