Previously reward-associated sounds interfere with goal-directed auditory processing. Academic Article uri icon


  • Previously reward-associated stimuli have consistently been shown to involuntarily capture attention in the visual domain. Although previously reward-associated but currently task-irrelevant sounds have also been shown to interfere with visual processing, it remains unclear whether such stimuli can interfere with the processing of task-relevant auditory information. To address this question, we modified a dichotic listening task to measure interference from task-irrelevant but previously reward-associated sounds. In a training phase, participants were simultaneously presented with a spoken letter and number in different auditory streams and learned to associate the correct identification of each of three letters with high, low, and no monetary reward, respectively. In a subsequent test phase, participants were again presented with the same auditory stimuli but were instead instructed to report the number while ignoring spoken letters. In both the training and test phases, response time measures demonstrated that attention was biased in favour of the auditory stimulus associated with high value. Our findings demonstrate that attention can be biased towards learned reward cues in the auditory domain, interfering with goal-directed auditory processing.

published proceedings

  • Q J Exp Psychol (Hove)

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, A. J., Lee, D. S., & Anderson, B. A.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Andy J||Lee, David S||Anderson, Brian A

publication date

  • July 2021