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When the rhythm disappears and the mind keeps dancing: Sustained effects of attentional entrainment

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Trapp,  Sabrina
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Cognitive Psychology, University of Hamburg, Germany;
Department of Psychology, University of Hamburg, Germany;

Havlicek,  Ondrej
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Experimental Psychology, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Germany;

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Schirmer,  Annett
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Chinese University of Hong Kong, China;

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Citation

Trapp, S., Havlicek, O., Schirmer, A., & Keller, P. E. (2020). When the rhythm disappears and the mind keeps dancing: Sustained effects of attentional entrainment. Psychological Research, 84(1), 81-87. doi:10.1007/s00426-018-0983-x.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-3EC0-2
Abstract
Research has demonstrated that the human cognitive system allocates attention most efficiently to a stimulus that occurs in synchrony with an established rhythmic background. However, our environment is dynamic and constantly changing. What happens when rhythms to which our cognitive system adapted disappear? We addressed this question using a visual categorization task comprising emotional and neutral faces. The task was split into three blocks of which the first and the last were completed in silence. The second block was accompanied by an acoustic background rhythm that, for one group of participants, was synchronous with face presentations, and for another group was asynchronous. Irrespective of group, performance improved with background stimulation. Importantly, improved performance extended into the third silent block for the synchronous, but not for the asynchronous group. These data suggest that attentional entrainment resulting from rhythmic environmental regularities disintegrates only gradually after the regularities disappear.