Browsing by Subject "selective attention"

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  • Moisala, Mona; Salmela, Viljami; Salo, Emma; Carlson, Synnove; Vuontela, Virve; Salonen, Oili; Alho, Kimmo (2015)
  • Putkinen, Vesa; Saarikivi, Katri; Chan, Tsz Man Vanessa; Tervaniemi, Mari (2021)
    Previous work suggests that musical training in childhood is associated with enhanced executive functions. However, it is unknown whether this advantage extends to selective attention-another central aspect of executive control. We recorded a well-established event-related potential (ERP) marker of distraction, the P3a, during an audio-visual task to investigate the maturation of selective attention in musically trained children and adolescents aged 10-17 years and a control group of untrained peers. The task required categorization of visual stimuli, while a sequence of standard sounds and distracting novel sounds were presented in the background. The music group outperformed the control group in the categorization task and the younger children in the music group showed a smaller P3a to the distracting novel sounds than their peers in the control group. Also, a negative response elicited by the novel sounds in the N1/MMN time range (similar to 150-200 ms) was smaller in the music group. These results indicate that the music group was less easily distracted by the task-irrelevant sound stimulation and gated the neural processing of the novel sounds more efficiently than the control group. Furthermore, we replicated our previous finding that, relative to the control group, the musically trained children and adolescents performed faster in standardized tests for inhibition and set shifting. These results provide novel converging behavioral and electrophysiological evidence from a cross-modal paradigm for accelerated maturation of selective attention in musically trained children and adolescents and corroborate the association between musical training and enhanced inhibition and set shifting.
  • Leminen, Alina; Verwoert, Maxime; Moisala, Mona; Salmela, Viljami; Wikman, Patrik; Alho, Kimmo (2020)
    In real-life noisy situations, we can selectively attend to conversations in the presence of irrelevant voices, but neurocognitive mechanisms in such natural listening situations remain largely unexplored. Previous research has shown distributed activity in the mid superior temporal gyrus (STG) and sulcus (STS) while listening to speech and human voices, in the posterior STS and fusiform gyrus when combining auditory, visual and linguistic information, as well as in left-hemisphere temporal and frontal cortical areas during comprehension. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we investigated how selective attention modulates neural responses to naturalistic audiovisual dialogues. Our healthy adult participants (N = 15) selectively attended to video-taped dialogues between a man and woman in the presence of irrelevant continuous speech in the background. We modulated the auditory quality of dialogues with noise vocoding and their visual quality by masking speech-related facial movements. Both increased auditory quality and increased visual quality were associated with bilateral activity enhancements in the STG/STS. In addition, decreased audiovisual stimulus quality elicited enhanced fronto-parietal activity, presumably reflecting increased attentional demands. Finally, attention to the dialogues, in relation to a control task where a fixation cross was attended and the dialogue ignored, yielded enhanced activity in the left planum polare, angular gyrus, the right temporal pole, as well as in the orbitofrontal/ventromedial prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate gyrus. Our findings suggest that naturalistic conversations effectively engage participants and reveal brain networks related to social perception in addition to speech and semantic processing networks.
  • Ylinen, Artturi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2019)
    The present study uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural basis of naturalistic audiovisual speech processing. The study focuses on how performing different speech-related tasks affects the neural activation observed in the brain. The neural basis of speech processing has been studied for long, but previous experiments have mainly employed paradigms with simple stimuli, such as single phonemes, syllables, and words, and unnatural tasks, such as discrimination and memory tasks. Moreover, current models of speech processing are mainly based on studies using auditory-only stimuli. In natural situations, however, the aim of speech processing is to understand the meaning of what is being said, speech is most often audiovisual, it is often selectively attended to, and the signal-to-noise ratio of the speech signal varies (due to, for example, background noise). The present study aims to study speech processing in a more naturalistic setting that takes into account the above-mentioned factors. Moreover, it compares a situation where speech is processed naturalistically to a situation where speech is processed sub-lexically, as is often done in studies of speech processing. The participants of the present study were 19 healthy adults. They were presented with audiovisual dialogues where two people discuss everyday matters. In the background of the videos, the voice of a third speaker was always present so that the participants had to selectively attend to the dialogues. The auditory and visual qualities of the dialogues were modulated on two different levels. The participants performed three different tasks: 1) A semantic task, during which the participants focused on the semantic content of the dialogues. 2) A phonological task, during which the participants focused on the phonological structure of the speech. 3) A visual task, during which the participants ignored the dialogues and focused on a fixation cross. Task-dependent effects in the neural activation were found in multiple regions of the brain. Selective attention to speech was found to activate regions in the temporal lobes and the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG), a result consistent with earlier research. The semantic task was found to activate areas associated with semantic and socio-cognitive processing more than either of the other tasks, while the phonological task activated the posterior portion of the LIFG as well as the ventral portion of the left premotor cortex. Interactions between the effects of task and audiovisual quality were also found in many brain areas. These results show that task-dependent effects in speech processing can be seen in widespread regions of the brain, and that audiovisual quality can modulate activation differentially during different tasks. These findings highlight the importance of using naturalistic stimuli and tasks in studies of speech processing.