The cat and the fiddle: Task difficulty and semantic congruency of multimodal stimuli.
53.557, Tuesday, May 14, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm, Vista Ballroom
Bonnie L. Angelone1, Lyle Zanca1; 1Psychology Department, College of Science & Mathematics, Rowan University
Previous research has investigated the effect of semantic consistency and inconsistency in the role of object perception, detection, and identification. There is mixed evidence for a relationship between scene relevancy and object detection (Biederman, Mezzanotte, & Rabinowitz, 1982; Hollingworth, 1998). While this research has utilized visual stimuli alone, other studies have shown facilitation of visual search performance in complex changing arrays with the presentation of an auditory cue that is uninformative and unrelated to the task (Ngo & Spence, 2010; Klapetek, Ngo & Spence, 2012). The current study investigated semantic congruency between auditory and visual stimuli and the effect these stimuli had on attention-based processes in a visual search task under differing levels of task difficulty. Observers viewed an array of six Snodgrass objects (presented in color) accompanied by an auditory stimulus that was either semantically congruent or incongruent with the target in a visual search task. When the task was less attentionally demanding (target category membership was easily determined), there was no difference in search for congruent and incongruent trials. However, when the task required more attentional resources (target category membership was more difficult to determine) visual search was both faster and more accurate for congruent compared to incongruent trials. Having semantically congruent (match) auditory and visual stimuli, compared to semantically incongruent stimuli (mismatch), facilitated performance and speeded reaction time but only when task demands increased. In addition, there was no difference when the visual search task was presented with no sound. This suggests that observers utilize congruent auditory information only when task difficulty is increased.