Priming inhibits the right ear advantage in dichotic listening: Implications for auditory laterality

Research Area: Research Year: 2007
Type of Publication: Article
Authors: Sætrevik, B; Hugdahl, Kenneth
The typical finding in dichotic listening with verbal stimuli is the right ear advantage (REA), indicating a left hemisphere processing superiority, thus making this an effective tool in studying hemispheric asymmetry. It has been shown that the amplitude of the REA can be modulated by instructions to direct attention to left or right side. The current study attempted to modulate the REA by changing the dichotic listening stimulus situation. In Experiment 1, a consonant vowel (CV) syllable prime was presented binaurally briefly before the dichotic stimuli (consisting of two CVs). The prime could be the same as either the left or right ear dichotic stimulus, or it could be a different stimulus. Participants were instructed to report the CV they heard best from the dichotic syllable pair. The traditional REA was found when the prime was different from both dichotic stimuli. When the prime matched the CV in the left half of the subsequent dichotic pair, the REA was increased, while if the prime matched the right half, the REA was reduced. In order to see at which perceptual stage the modulation takes place, in Experiment 2 the prime was visual, presented on a PC screen. The same effect was seen, although the modulation of the REA was weaker. We propose that the memory trace of the prime is a source of interference, and causes cognitive control of attention to inhibit recognition of stimuli similar to recent distractors. Based on previous studies we propose that this inhibition of attention is performed by prefrontal cortical areas. Similarities to the mechanisms involved in negative priming and implications for auditory laterality studies are pointed out.
Digital version