An auditory attention-switching paradigm was combined with a judgment-switching paradigm to examine the interaction of a varying auditory attention component and a varying judgment component. Participants heard two dichotically presented stimuli-one spoken by a female speaker and one spoken by a male speaker. In each trial, the stimuli were a spoken letter and a spoken number. A visual explicit cue at the beginning of each trial indicated the auditory attention criterion (speaker sex/ear) to identify the target stimulus (Experiment 1) or the judgment that had to be executed (Experiment 2). Hence, the attentional selection criterion switched independently between speaker sexes (or between ears), while the judgment alternated between letter categorization and number categorization. The data indicate that auditory attention criterion and judgment were not processed independently, regardless of whether the attention criterion or the judgment was cued. The partial repetition benefits of the explicitly cued component suggested a hierarchical organization of the auditory attention component and the judgment component within the task set. We suggest that the hierarchy arises due to the explicit cuing of one component rather than due to a "natural" hierarchy of auditory attention component and judgment component.
Keywords: Attention: selective; Attention: space-based; Audition.