Tuesday, October 24, 2000
John P. McDonald, a University of California (San Diego) professor
of neuroscience, says that there is a connection between sight and sound that is
important to the design of warning systems, radar operation systems, and
human-machine interfaces. He found that attention drawn to a sound enhances an
individual's ability to see.
"Our findings show that orienting attention to the location of a
sudden sound primes the observer's visual system to process visual events that
appear at the same location," says MacDonald. "Although we want to have a
measure of the participant's perceptual sensitivity, we also want to deal with
their decision processes," he says.
MacDonald notes that researchers know that the brain integrates
information received from multiple stimuli in the environment and often ignores
nonessential information. However, what we don't understand are the processes
that enables us to selectively pay attention to events occurring in different
"We are now using measures of the brain electricity for
determining whether orienting attention to a sound influences neural processing
in visual parts of the brain," says MacDonald. We are also investigating whether
orienting attention to a sudden light influence the way we hear."
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