Using sound to modulate attention (Paul Satchell )

Subject: Using sound to modulate attention
From:    Paul Satchell  <sattress(at)SPIN.NET.AU>
Date:    Wed, 27 Feb 2002 05:53:50 -0800

I have just read a paper by Robertson et al (Nature 395, 1998, pp169-172) which shows that in patients with neglect, warning sounds delivered phasically remove the pathological bias in their visual spatial awareness. This is an important observation for neglect patients and may have more general implications for phasic alerting and spatial awareness. Thus, I came across an older paper by Mackie et al (Ergonomics 37, 1994, pp 1157-1184) which appears to show that those carrying out sonar watchstanding in submarines can have their detection performance improved by signal injection and performance feedback. This is the only applied example I have found which suggests that attention and awareness might be altered systematically in a workplace by sounds. The neural processes in the sonar example may have nothing to do with those proposed in the neglect example. Is anyone aware of any work where technology has been used to alter human auditory vigilance in roles like sonar watchkeeping. I have contacted the publicity officer for the US naval training school but he could not help. Dr Paul Satchell

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