The effect of hand proximity on vision and visual attention has been well documented. In this study we tested whether such effect(s) would also be present in the auditory modality. With hands placed either near or away from the audio sources, participants performed an auditory-spatial discrimination (Experiment 1: left or right side), pitch discrimination (Experiment 2: high, med, or low tone), and spatial-plus-pitch (Experiment 3: left or right; high, med, or low) discrimination task. In Experiment 1, when hands were away from the audio source, participants consistently responded faster with their right hand regardless of stimulus location. This right hand advantage, however, disappeared in the hands-near condition because of a significant improvement in left hand's reaction time (RT). No effect of hand proximity was found in Experiments 2 or 3, where a choice RT task requiring pitch discrimination was used. Together, these results that the perceptual and attentional effect of hand proximity is not limited to one specific modality, but applicable to the entire "space" near the hands, including stimuli of different modality (at least visual and auditory) within that space. While these findings provide evidence from auditory attention that supports the multimodal account originally raised by Reed et al. (2006), we also discuss the possibility of a dual mechanism hypothesis to reconcile findings from the multimodal and magno/parvocellular account.
- Journal Article