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Auditory distraction and serial memory: The avoidable and the ineluctable

Jones, Dylan Marc ORCID:, Hughes, Robert Wyn and Macken, William John ORCID: 2010. Auditory distraction and serial memory: The avoidable and the ineluctable. Noise and Health 12 (49) , pp. 201-209. 10.4103/1463-1741.70497

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One mental activity that is very vulnerable to auditory distraction is serial recall. This review of the contemporary findings relating to serial recall charts the key determinants of distraction. It is evident that there is one form of distraction that is a joint product of the cognitive characteristics of the task and of the obligatory cognitive processing of the sound. For sequences of sound, distraction appears to be an ineluctable product of similarity-of-process, specifically, the serial order processing of the visually presented items and the serial order coding that is the by-product of the streaming of the sound. However, recently emerging work shows that the distraction from a single sound (one deviating from a prevailing sequence) results in attentional capture and is qualitatively distinct from that of a sequence in being restricted in its action to encoding, not to rehearsal of list members. Capture is also sensitive to the sensory task load, suggesting that it is subject to top-down control and therefore avoidable. These two forms of distraction-conflict of process and attentional capture-may be two consequences of auditory perceptual organization processes that serve to strike the optimal balance between attentional selectivity and distractability.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Uncontrolled Keywords: Attentional capture, auditory distraction, changing-state effect, interference by process, selective attention, serial recall
Publisher: MedKnow
ISSN: 1463-1741
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 09:06

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