Stimulus-focused attention enhances the processing of auditory stimuli, which is indicated by enhanced neural activity. In situations where fast responses are required, attention may not only serve as a means to gain more information about the relevant stimulus, but it may provide a processing speed gain as well. In two experiments we investigated whether attentional focusing decreased the latency of the auditory N1 event related potential. In Experiment 1 slowly emerging, soft (20. dB sensation level) sounds were presented in two conditions, in which participants performed a sound-detection task or watched a silent movie and ignored the sounds. N1 latency was shorter in the sound-detection task in comparison to the ignore condition. In Experiment 2 we investigated whether the attentional N1 latency-decrease was caused by a frequency-specific attentional preparation or not. To this end, tone sequences were presented with a single tone frequency or with four different frequencies. N1 latency was shorter in the sound-detection task in comparison to the ignore condition regardless the number of frequencies. These results suggest that stimulus-focused attention increases stimulus processing speed by generally increasing sensory gain.
- Auditory N1
- Event-related potentials (ERP)
- Frequency specificity
- Processing speed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Physiology (medical)