Attentional modulation of electrophysiological activity in auditory cortex for unattended sounds within multistream auditory environments

E. S. Sussman, A. S. Bregman, W. J. Wang, F. J. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Scopus citations

Abstract

In three experiments, we addressed the issue of attention effects on unattended sound processing when one auditory stream is selected from three potential streams, creating a simple model of the cocktail party situation. We recorded event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to determine the way in which unattended, task-irrelevant sounds were stored in auditory memory (i.e., as one integrated stream or as two distinct streams). Subjects were instructed to ignore all the sounds and attend to a visual task or to selectively attend to a subset of the sounds and perform a task with the sounds (Experiments 1 and 2). A third (behavioral) experiment was conducted to test whether global pattern violations (used in Experiments 1 and 2) were perceptible when the sounds were segregated. We found that the mismatch negativity ERP component, an index of auditory change detection, was evoked by infrequent pattern violations occurring in the unattended sounds when all the sounds were ignored, but not when attention was focused on a subset of the sounds. The results demonstrate that multiple unattended sound streams can segregate by frequency range but that selectively attending to a subset of the sounds can modify the extent to which the unattended sounds are processed. These results are consistent with models in animal and human studies showing that attentional control can limit the processing of unattended input in favor of attended sensory inputs, thereby facilitating the ability to achieve behavioral goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-110
Number of pages18
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Attentional modulation of electrophysiological activity in auditory cortex for unattended sounds within multistream auditory environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this