Stimulus-focused attention speeds up auditory processing

Tímea Folyi, Balázs Fehér, János Horváth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-163
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2012


  • Attention
  • Auditory N1
  • Event-related potentials (ERP)
  • Frequency specificity
  • Latency
  • Processing speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)

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