Event-related brain potentials reveal similar attentional mechanisms during selective listening and shadowing

D. L. Woods, Steven A. Hillyard, J. C. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Examined the properties of linguistic attention by recording event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to probe stimuli mixed with dichotically presented prose passages. 12 17-32 yr old right-handed Ss either shadowed (repeated phrase by phrase) or selectively listened to a passage while ERPs were recorded from electrodes overlying midline sites, left-hemisphere speech areas, and corresponding areas of the right hemisphere. Mixed with each voice (a male voice in one ear, a female voice in the other) were 4 probe stimuli: digitized speech sounds (but or /a/ as in father) produced by the same speaker and tone bursts at the mean fundamental and 2nd formant frequencies of that voice. The ERPs elicited by the speech probes in the attended ear showed an enhanced negativity, with an onset at 50-200 msec and lasting up to 800-2,000 msec, whereas the ERPs to the 2nd formant probes showed an enhanced positivity in the 200-300 msec latency range. These effects were comparable for shadowing and selective listening conditions and remained stable over the course of the experiment. The attention-related negativity to the CVC probe (but) was most prominent over the left hemisphere; other probes produced no significant asymmetries. Results indicate that stimulus selection during linguistic attention is specifically tuned to speech sounds rather than simply to constituent pure-tone frequencies or ear of entry. (55 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)761-777
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1984


  • selective attention to dichotic speech stimuli, event-related brain potentials, 17-32 yr olds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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