The Flip Side of the Auditory Spatial Selection Benefit: Larger Attentional Mixing Costs for Target Selection by Ear Than by Gender in Auditory Task Switching

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In cued auditory task switching, one of two dichotically presented number words, spoken by a female and a male, had to be judged according to its numerical magnitude. One experimental group selected targets by speaker gender and another group by ear of presentation. In mixed-task blocks, the target-defining feature (male/female vs. left/right) was cued prior to each trial, but in pure blocks it remained constant. Compared to selection by gender, selection by ear led to better performance in pure blocks than in mixed blocks, resulting in larger “global” mixing costs for ear-based selection. Selection by ear also led to larger “local” switch costs in mixed blocks, but this finding was partially mediated by differential cue-repetition benefits. Together, the data suggest that requirements of attention shifting diminish the auditory spatial selection benefit.

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