Document Type


Publication Date



College of Education and Human Services


Communication Sciences and Disorders


The ability to detect important auditory signals while performing visual tasks may be further compounded by background chatter. Thus, it is important to know how task performance may interact with background chatter to hinder signal detection. Aim: To examine any interactive effects of speech spectrum noise and task performance on the ability to detect signals. Settings and Design: The setting was a sound-treated booth. A repeated measures design was used. Materials and Methods: Auditory thresholds of 20 normal adults were determined at 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 kHz in the following conditions presented in a random order: (1) quiet with attention; (2) quiet with a visuo-spatial task or puzzle (distraction); (3) noise with attention and (4) noise with task. Statistical Analysis: Multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVA) with three repeated factors (quiet versus noise, visuo-spatial task versus no task, signal frequency). Results: MANOVA revealed significant main effects for noise and signal frequency and significant noise–frequency and task–frequency interactions. Distraction caused by performing the task worsened the thresholds for tones presented at the beginning of the experiment and had no effect on tones presented in the middle. At the end of the experiment, thresholds (4 kHz) were better while performing the task than those obtained without performing the task. These effects were similar across the quiet and noise conditions. Conclusion: Detection of auditory signals is difficult at the beginning of a distracting visuo-spatial task but over time, task learning and auditory training effects can nullify the effect of distraction and may improve detection of high frequency sounds.

Source Citation

Rawool, V. W. (2016). Detection of Auditory Signals in Quiet and Noisy Backgrounds while Performing a Visuo-spatial Task. Noise Health, 18, 283-7.


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