Object-based auditory and visual attention

Trends Cogn Sci. 2008 May;12(5):182-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2008.02.003. Epub 2008 Apr 7.


Theories of visual attention argue that attention operates on perceptual objects, and thus that interactions between object formation and selective attention determine how competing sources interfere with perception. In auditory perception, theories of attention are less mature and no comprehensive framework exists to explain how attention influences perceptual abilities. However, the same principles that govern visual perception can explain many seemingly disparate auditory phenomena. In particular, many recent studies of 'informational masking' can be explained by failures of either auditory object formation or auditory object selection. This similarity suggests that the same neural mechanisms control attention and influence perception across different sensory modalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Form Perception / physiology
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Visual Perception / physiology*