The influence of selection history on auditory spatial attention

Douglas A. Addleman, Yuhong V Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Evidence suggests that prior attentional selection guides visuospatial attention without conscious intent. Yet few studies have examined whether selection history influences auditory spatial attention. Using a novel auditory search task, we investigated two selection history effects: short-term intertrial location priming and long-term location probability learning. Participants reported whether a spoken number, occurring simultaneously with three spoken letter distractors presented from different locations, was odd or even. We first showed that endogenous attention guided by informative arrows facilitated search in our paradigm. Next, intertrial location priming was assessed by comparing reaction time when target location repeated across recent trials to when target location changed. Unlike visual search, auditory search showed little evidence of intertrial location priming. In a separate experiment, we investigated location probability learning by making targets disproportionately likely to appear in one location. Results showed location probability learning: participants were faster when targets occurred in the high-probability location than in the low-probability locations. To our knowledge, this is the first study of intertrial location priming or long-term location probability learning in auditory search. The findings have implications for the role of spatial relevance in auditory attention and suggest that long-term attentional learning and short-term priming rely on separate mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-488
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (Grant DGE-1734815).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Auditory search
  • Intertrial priming
  • Location probability learning
  • Selection history
  • Spatial attention
  • Space Perception/physiology
  • Probability Learning
  • Auditory Perception/physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Young Adult
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Attention/physiology

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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