Emotional bias in change deafness in multisource auditory environments
Journal article, 2014
Theories of auditory attention suggest that humans decompose complex auditory input into individual auditory objects, which then compete for attention to dominate auditory perception. Since emotional significance of external stimuli has been argued to provide cues for sensory prioritization and allocation of attention, emotionally salient auditory objects can receive attention to dominate auditory perception. On the basis of the function of audition as an alarm system that informs the organism about its immediate surroundings, and on empirical evidence that emotion can modulate auditory perception, we argue that auditory stimuli with greater emotional saliency would dominate perception in multisource environments. To test our hypothesis, we employed a change detection task in which participants were asked to indicate whether multisource auditory scenes were identical or different. Participants were better at detecting changes at the presence of an emotionally negative environment compared to neutral environment. Further, we found that participants were better at detecting changes of emotionally negative targets compared to neutral targets. Our results demonstrate that detecting changes in auditory scenes is influenced by emotion. The findings are discussed in the light of the theories of auditory attention, emotional modulation of attention, and the adaptive function of emotion for perception.