A common source of attention for auditory and visual tracking

Daryl Fougnie, Jurnell Cockhren, René Marois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tasks that require tracking visual information reveal the severe limitations of our capacity to attend to multiple objects that vary in time and space. Although these limitations have been extensively characterized in the visual domain, very little is known about tracking information in other sensory domains. Does tracking auditory information exhibit characteristics similar to those of tracking visual information, and to what extent do these two tracking tasks draw on the same attention resources? We addressed these questions by asking participants to perform either single or dual tracking tasks from the same (visual–visual) or different (visual–auditory) perceptual modalities, with the difficulty of the tracking tasks being manipulated across trials. The results revealed that performing two concurrent tracking tasks, whether they were in the same or different modalities, affected tracking performance as compared to performing each task alone (concurrence costs). Moreover, increasing task difficulty also led to increased costs in both the single-task and dual-task conditions (load-dependent costs). The comparison of concurrence costs between visual–visual and visual–auditory dual-task performance revealed slightly greater interference when two visual tracking tasks were paired. Interestingly, however, increasing task difficulty led to equivalent costs for visual–visual and visual–auditory pairings. We concluded that visual and auditory tracking draw largely, though not exclusively, on common central attentional resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1571-1583
Number of pages13
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Divided attention
  • Dual-task performance
  • Inattention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'A common source of attention for auditory and visual tracking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this