Poster B4, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Long-term memory guides auditory spatial attention: An event-related potential study
Jacqueline Zimmermann1,2, Claude Alain1,2, Morris Moscovitch1,2; 1University of Toronto, 2Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest
Numerous studies show that long-term memory (LTM) can influence the deployment of visuo-spatial attention. Here, we tested whether LTM can also bias auditory spatial attention. In an initial learning phase, we created associations between audio-clips and the location of a faint auditory (pure tone) target. Participants were presented with 2.5 second audio-clips (e.g., birds chirping). Half of the audio-clips, referred to as valid scenes, contained a difficult-to-detect target tone in the left or right ear. The other half did not include a target (neutral scenes). Immediately following the learning phase, a memory test showed that participants formed strong memory contingencies between audio-clips and embedded target locations. Following either 1 or 24 hour retentions, event-related potentials were measured during the subsequent testing phase, where participants were cued with valid or neutral audio-clips from the learning phase, and pressed a button indicating location of the target. The target appeared either at a previously learnt location (for valid scenes) or at an unlearned location (neutral scenes). Participants were faster in judging the target’s location when they had previously learned its location within that scene (valid scenes) than when no contextual memory existed (neutral scenes). Memory-guided changes in attention were as strong after 24 hours as after 1 hour delays. Memory-guided performance gains were accompanied by specific changes in neuroelectric activity associated with allocation of attention to expected target locations, differing from responses to unlearned locations. Our findings provide converging evidence that LTM does bias auditory spatial attention, which in turn promotes signal detection.
Topic Area: ATTENTION: Auditory