Impact of Auditory Attention on the Efferent Auditory System in the Absence of Real Auditory Targets
Keywords:AUDITORY ATTENTION, VISUAL ATTENTION, CONTRALATERAL SUPPRESSION, TRANSIENT-EVOKED OTOACOUSTIC EMISSIONS, EFFERENT, ATTENTION AUDITIVE, ATTENTION VISUELLE, SUPPRESSION CONTROLATÉRALE, OTOÉMISSIONS ACOUSTIQUES PROVOQUÉES, EFFÉRENT
Previous studies have compared visual and auditory attention to no-task conditions and have demonstrated an attention driven modulation of the efferent auditory system (De Boer & Thornton, 2007; Maison, Micheyl, & Collet, 2001). However, it is unclear whether these effects are modality-specific or a result of generalized attentional processes. In the present study, 16 young adults observed facial speech gestures related to productions of vowels /a/ and /u/ in the presence of contralateral broad band noise (BBN) under two instructions: (a) visually count the number of /a/ productions and ignore BBN (visual attention) and (b) to listen carefully and count target sound /a/ embedded in BBN (sham condition; auditory attention). These “sham” trials did not have any acoustic targets and investigated the effect of auditory attention in the absence of real auditory targets. The influence of visual and auditory attention on the efferent auditory system were indirectly assessed by examining their effects on contralateral suppression of Transient-evoked otoacoustic emissions (CS-TEOAE paradigm; Collet et al., 1990). The Mean change from baseline for visual attention and auditory attention were 2.19 and 1.88 dB SPL, respectively. Cohen’s d for the mean difference between the two conditions yielded a moderate positive effect size = 0.52. 12 out of 16 participants (75%; exact binomial test significant at one tailed p = 0.03) demonstrated a greater suppression of TEOAEs amplitudes (mean difference = 0.31 dB SPL) in the visual attention condition relative to the auditory attention condition. These effects are similar to those reported in the literature, wherein attention to stimuli in the contralateral ear increased OAE suppression (Harkrider & Bowers, 2009). Our results show that these effects are obtainable even in the absence of real auditory targets (i.e. without stimulus confound). Overall, finding a difference in suppression of TEOAEs for visual and auditory attention conditions provide preliminary evidence for a modality-specific rather than a generalized attentional modulation in the efferent auditory system.
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