Musical rhythm effects on visual attention are non-rhythmical: Evidence against metrical entrainment
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AbstractThe idea that external rhythms synchronize attention cross-modally has attracted much interest and scientific inquiry. Yet, whether associated attentional modulations are indeed rhythmical in that they spring from and map onto an underlying meter has not been clearly established. Here we tested this idea while addressing the shortcomings of previous work associated with confounding (i) metricality and regularity, (ii) rhythmic and temporal expectations or (iii) global and local temporal effects. We designed sound sequences that varied orthogonally (high/low) in metricality and regularity and presented them as task-irrelevant auditory background in four separate blocks. The participants’ task was to detect rare visual targets occurring at a silent metrically aligned or misaligned temporal position. We found that target timing was irrelevant for reaction times and visual event-related potentials. High background regularity and to a lesser extent metricality facilitated target processing across metrically aligned and misaligned positions. Additionally, high regularity modulated auditory background frequencies in the EEG recorded over occipital cortex. We conclude that external rhythms, rather than synchronizing attention cross-modally, confer general, nontemporal benefits. Their predictability conserves processing resources that then benefit stimulus representations in other modalities.
Acceptance Date02/06/2020
All Author(s) ListSchirmer A., Wijaya M., Chiu M.H., Maess B., Gunter T.C.
Journal nameSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Volume Number16
Issue Number1-2
PublisherOxford University Press
Pages58 - 71
LanguagesEnglish-United States

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