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  Acoustic detail guides attention allocation in a selective listening task

Wöstmann, M., Schröger, E., & Obleser, J. (2015). Acoustic detail guides attention allocation in a selective listening task. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 27(5), 988-1000. doi:10.1162/jocn_a_00761.

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 Creators:
Wöstmann, Malte1, 2, Author              
Schröger, Erich3, Author
Obleser, Jonas1, Author              
Affiliations:
1Max Planck Research Group Auditory Cognition, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_751545              
2International Max Planck Research School on Neuroscience of Communication, Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
3University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              

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 Abstract: The flexible allocation of attention enables us to perceive and behave successfully despite irrelevant distractors. How do acoustic challenges influence this allocation of attention, and to what extent is this ability preserved in normally aging listeners? Younger and healthy older participants performed a masked auditory number comparison while EEG was recorded. To vary selective attention demands, we manipulated perceptual separability of spoken digits from a masking talker by varying acoustic detail (temporal fine structure). Listening conditions were adjusted individually to equalize stimulus audibility as well as the overall level of performance across participants. Accuracy increased, and response times decreased with more acoustic detail. The decrease in response times with more acoustic detail was stronger in the group of older participants. The onset of the distracting speech masker triggered a prominent contingent negative variation (CNV) in the EEG. Notably, CNV magnitude decreased parametrically with increasing acoustic detail in both age groups. Within identical levels of acoustic detail, larger CNV magnitude was associated with improved accuracy. Across age groups, neuropsychological markers further linked early CNV magnitude directly to individual attentional capacity. Results demonstrate for the first time that, in a demanding listening task, instantaneous acoustic conditions guide the allocation of attention. Second, such basic neural mechanisms of preparatory attention allocation seem preserved in healthy aging, despite impending sensory decline.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2014-11-122015-05
 Publication Status: Published in print
 Pages: -
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 Table of Contents: -
 Rev. Type: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_00761
PMID: 25390200
Other: Epub 2014
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Title: Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Source Genre: Journal
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Pages: - Volume / Issue: 27 (5) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 988 - 1000 Identifier: ISSN: 0898-929X
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/991042752752726