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5. Integrating: Hacks 53–61 > 54. Don’t Divide Attention Across Locations

Don’t Divide Attention Across Locations

Attention isn’t separate for different senses. Where you place your attention in visual space affects what you hear in auditory space. Attention exists as a central, spatially allocated resource.

Where you direct attention is not independent across the senses. Where you pay attention to in space with one sense affects the other senses. 1 If you want people to pay attention to information across two modalities (a modality is a sense mode, like vision or audition), they will find this easiest if the information comes from the same place in space. Alternatively, if you want people to ignore something, don’t make it come from the same place as something they are attending to. These are lessons drawn from work by Dr. Charles Spence of the Oxford University crossmodal research group ( http://psyweb.psy.ox.ac.uk/xmodal/default.htm ). One experiment that everyone will be able to empathize with involves listening to speech while driving a car. 2


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