Visual-auditory interaction in saccadic reaction time: effects of auditory masker level.

Brain research

PubMedID: 17900544

Steenken R, Colonius H, Diederich A, Rach S. Visual-auditory interaction in saccadic reaction time: effects of auditory masker level. Brain Res. 2008;1220150-6.
Saccadic reaction time (SRT) to a visual target tends to be shorter when auditory stimuli are presented in close temporal and spatial proximity, even when subjects are instructed to ignore the auditory non-target (focused attention paradigm). Observed SRT reductions typically range between 10 and 50 ms and decrease as spatial disparity between the stimuli increases. Previous studies using pairs of visual and auditory stimuli differing in both azimuth and vertical position suggest that the amount of SRT facilitation decreases not with the physical but with the perceivable distance between visual target and auditory accessory. Here we probe this hypothesis by presenting an additional white-noise masker background of 3 s duration. Increasing the masker level had a diametrical effect on SRTs in spatially coincident vs. disparate stimulus configurations: saccadic responses to coincident visual-auditory stimuli are slowed down, whereas saccadic responses to disparate stimuli are speeded up. As verified in a separate auditory localization task, localizability of the auditory accessory decreases with masker level. The SRT results are accounted for by a conceptual model positing that increasing masker level enlarges the area of possible auditory stimulus locations: it implies that perceivable distances decrease for disparate stimulus configurations and increase for coincident stimulus pairs.