This article applies to:
Experiment Author: Broadbent D.E., Adapted from STEP and used with permission of Brian MacWhinney
In the experiment replicated here, participants hear two sets of digits simultaneously, one in each ear. They tend to report all of the digits from one ear first, and then the digits from the other ear.
Participants need to wear headphones in order to hear different audio tracks played to individual ears. 20 sets of three-number strings are entered into a list. There are 10 sets to play in the right ear and 10 sets to play in the left ear. The sets are chosen randomly and participants will respond 10 times in total. Participants press the spacebar on a keyboard to continue after each response. The audio files that participants will hear are included in the experiment download.
Broadbent, D.E. (1954). The role of auditory localization in attention and memory span. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 47, 191-196.
Experiment Abstract or Original Experiment Abstract
In this classic experiment, Broadbent asked subject to listen to two recorded strings of digits, one played to each ear, simultaneously. Thus, subjects heard two digits (one in each ear), then another two, and then another two, and then reported what they heard. Broadbent found that there was a strong tendency for subjects to report the three digits heard in one ear, and then the three heard in the other ear. This was evidence in favor of his early, blocking filter model of auditory attention, which suggested that we can attend to only a single attentional “channel” (here, one ear) at a time, blocking input from the other channel. In this interpretation, the subject reports the digits heard in one ear and then switches attention to the auditory memory of the information in the other ear in order to report it.
Works Cited by this Experiment
Broadbent, D.E. Listening to one of two synchronous messages. J. exp. Psychol., 1952, 44, 51-55.
Broadbent, D.E. Classical conditioning and human watchkeeping. Psychol. Rev., 1953, 60, 331-339.
Broadbent, D.E. Noise, paced performance, and vigilance tasks. Brit. J. Psychol., 1953, 44, 295-303.
Fisher, R.A., & Yates, F. Statistical tables. London: Oliver & Boyd 1948.
Hirsh, I.J. The relation between locaization and intelligibility. J. acoust. Soc. Amer., 1950, 22, 196-200.
Kock, W.E. Binaural localization and masking. J. acoust. Soc. Amer., 1950, 22, 801-804.
Pillsbury, W.B. "Fluctuations of attention" and the refractory period. J. Philos. Psychol. sci. Meth., 1913, 10, 181-185.
Poulton, E.C. Two-channel listening. J. exp. Psychol., 1953, 46, 91-96.
Rosenzweig, M.R. Representations of the ears at the auditory cortex. Amer. J. Physiol., 1951, 167,147-158.
Stone, S.A. Prior entry in the auditory-tactual complication. Amer. J. Psychol., 1926, 37, 284-291.
Wallach, H., Newman, E.B., & Rosenzweig, M.R. The precedence effect in sound localization. Amer. J. Psychol., 1949, 62, 315-336.
Welford, N.T. Extimation of the position of a tactile stimulus in a repeated auditory pattern. Quart. J. exp. Psychol., 1949, 1, 180-192.