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  • This article was downloaded by: [DUT Library]On: 06 October 2014, At: 03:27Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office:Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    The Quarterly Journal of ExperimentalPsychologyPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscriptioninformation:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/pqje20

    Knowing when to hear aids what to hearKarin M. Bausenhart a , Bettina Rolke a & Rolf Ulrich aa University of Tbingen , Tbingen, GermanyPublished online: 06 Nov 2007.

    To cite this article: Karin M. Bausenhart , Bettina Rolke & Rolf Ulrich (2007) Knowing when tohear aids what to hear, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60:12, 1610-1615, DOI:10.1080/17470210701536419

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17470210701536419

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  • Short article

    Knowing when to hear aids what to hear

    Karin M. Bausenhart, Bettina Rolke, and Rolf UlrichUniversity of Tubingen, Tubingen, Germany

    Temporal preparation often has been assumed to influence motor stages of information processing.Recent studies, however, challenge this notion and provide evidence for a facilitation of visual proces-sing. The present study was designed to investigate whether perceptual processing in the auditorydomain also benefits from temporal preparation. To this end, we employed a pitch discriminationtask. In Experiment 1, discrimination performance was clearly improved when participants were tem-porally prepared. This finding was confirmed in Experiment 2, which ruled out possible influences ofshort-term memory. The results support the notion that temporal preparation enhances perceptualprocessing not only in the visual, but also in the auditory, modality.

    If a warning signal announces the temporaloccurrence of a stimulus, one can prepare for thatmoment and thus respond especially quickly(Niemi & Naatanen, 1981). Although this effectof temporal preparation is well established andhas been extensively studied by means of reactiontime (RT) and psychophysiological measures, themechanism that contributes to this effect is stillunclear. Several studies have shown an influenceof temporal preparation on motor processing.For example, it has been shown that temporalpreparation influences motor-related measuressuch as response force, reflex amplitude, transcra-nially evoked motor potentials, and the contingentnegative variation (for an overview, see Muller-Gethmann, Ulrich, & Rinkenauer, 2003).

    Therefore, it has been suggested that temporalpreparation exhibits a rather unspecific influenceby activating the motor system (e.g., Naatanen,1971).

    Other studies, however, questioned this pre-vailing notion and showed that stimulus proces-sing at premotoric stages is accelerated bytemporal preparation (Bausenhart, Rolke,Hackley, & Ulrich, 2006; Muller-Gethmannet al., 2003). Moreover, very recent studies havefound that temporal preparation improves visualdiscrimination (Correa, Lupianez, Milliken, &Tudela, 2004; Correa, Lupianez, & Tudela,2005; Rolke & Hofmann, 2007). For example,Rolke and Hofmann investigated the effects oftemporal preparation on visual perception by

    Correspondence should be addressed to Karin Bausenhart, Psychologisches Institut, University of Tubingen, Friedrichstrasse 21,D-72072 Tubingen, Germany. E-mail: karin.bausenhart@uni-tuebingen.de

    This study was supported by Grant RO 3034/1 of the German Research Foundation (DFG). We thank Allen Osman and JeffMiller for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

    1610 # 2007 The Experimental Psychology Societyhttp://www.psypress.com/qjep DOI:10.1080/17470210701536419

    THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY

    2007, 60 (12), 16101615

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  • employing a constant foreperiod paradigm.Specifically, the foreperiod duration (i.e., thetime between a warning signal and the subsequenttarget presentation) was kept constant within ablock of trials, but varied across blocks of trials.In this foreperiod paradigm, participants canmore exactly estimate the duration of a foreperiodwhen this duration is short rather than long.Hence, temporal preparation for targets followingshort foreperiods is superior compared to targetsthat are preceded by long foreperiods (e.g.,Naatanen, Muranen, & Merisalo, 1974). Rolkeand Hofmann employed a backward masking pro-cedure and required their participants to judgewhether the masked target stimulus (a Landoltsquare) contained a small spatial gap on eitherthe right or the left side. Consistent with formerstudies (e.g., Muller-Gethmann et al., 2003;Naatanen et al., 1974), reactions were fasterwhen foreperiod was short and therefore enabledparticipants to prepare temporally. Most import-ant, however, is the finding that also the accuracyof spatial gap discrimination was improved byshort foreperiods. Thus, these results show thattemporal preparation enhances perceptual proces-sing within the visual modality.

    This perceptual facilitation by temporal prep-aration questions the unspecific motor characterof the temporal preparation effect and relates theunderlying mechanism to attention. Specifically,temporal preparation might direct attention tospecific moments in time. As a consequence, per-ceptual processing of stimuli presented at theseattended moments would be facilitated. Such apositive influence of attention on perceptual pro-cessing has been repeatedly demonstrated in thefield of spatial attention. For example, it hasbeen shown that spatial orienting of attentionfacilitates perceptual processing within the visualmodality (e.g., Cheal, Lyon, & Hubbard, 1991;Yeshurun & Carrasco, 1999). Moreover, spatialorienting also improves auditory processing(Mondor & Zatorre, 1995; Spence & Driver,1994). Spence and Driver (1994), for example,found improved target localization and pitch dis-crimination when attention was directed to theside of target presentation by means of a predictive

    auditory cue. Such facilitating effects of spatialattention orienting can also be observed acrossdifferent modalities as vision, audition, and touch(e.g., Spence & Driver, 1997; Spence, Nicholls,Gillespie, & Driver, 1998). According to theseresults, attentional selection can be described as ageneral, modality-independent process.

    Thus, if temporal preparation exerts its effectsby enabling an orientation of attention to time, itshould, like spatial attention, not only facilitatevisual perceptual processing, but also enhance per-ceptual processing within other sensory modal-ities. The aim of the present study was to testthis temporal attention assumption by measuringthe influence of temporal preparation on auditoryprocessing. A facilitating effect of temporal prep-aration would further strengthen the notion thattemporal preparation can be regarded as ageneral, modality-unspecific, attentionalmechanism.

    EXPERIMENT 1

    We investigated the influence of temporal prep-aration on auditory perceptual processing bymeasuring pitch discrimination thresholds withan adaptive single stimulus presentation pro-cedure. Temporal preparation was manipulatedby means of a constant foreperiod paradigm.

    Method

    ParticipantsA total of 14 participants (mean age 26.9 years),among them 9 women, participated.

    Stimuli and apparatusThe target stimulus was a pure sinusoidal tone of800 or 816 Hz (70 db SPL). This target was pre-ceded by a warning signal and was followed by amask, both of which consisted of white Gaussiannoise (average power 80 db SPL, maximum fre-quency 11128 Hz). All auditory stimuli were pre-sented binaurally over headphones.

    THE QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY, 2007, 60 (12) 1611

    WHEN TO HEAR AIDS WHAT TO HEAR

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  • ProcedureEach trial (see Figure 1) started with the presen-tation of a silent interval of variable duration, ran-domly selected from an exponential distributionwith a mean of 2,000 ms. Then, the warningsignal was presented for 20