To What Extent do Listeners use Aural Information When it is Present
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In three of the manipulations in a 2009 dual-task performance study, virtual auditory cues were used to alert participants to the onset of three kinds of decision events in the secondary, but more demanding of the two tasks. Two aural parameters, the manner in which the cues were spatially presented and the level of task- related information they carried, were systematically altered to compare the impact of these factors on performance. In the work presented here, we focus on performance measures that can be cor- related with participants’ use of aurally-based task-related infor- mation in the study. Although secondary task decision response times were nominally the same in each manipulation, an analysis of head tracking data shows that, when they were cued, partici- pants turned their attention from the primary to the secondary task significantly sooner when a single sound (always the same) was used to announce decision events. In contrast, when a different sound was used to signal each kind of decision event, participants, after being cued, spent less time (but not significantly so) examin- ing the secondary task before entering their responses. The nature of this tradeoff and its implications for information design in audi- tory cueing is discussed.