Entrainment to an auditory signal: Is attention involved?
Kunert, R., & Jongman, S. R.
Entrainment to an auditory signal: Is attention involved? Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146
(1), 77-88. doi:10.1037/xge0000246.
Many natural auditory signals, including music and language, change periodically. The effect of such
auditory rhythms on the brain is unclear however. One widely held view, dynamic attending theory,
proposes that the attentional system entrains to the rhythm and increases attention at moments of
rhythmic salience. In support, 2 experiments reported here show reduced response times to visual letter
strings shown at auditory rhythm peaks, compared with rhythm troughs. However, we argue that an
account invoking the entrainment of general attention should further predict rhythm entrainment to also
influence memory for visual stimuli. In 2 pseudoword memory experiments we find evidence against this
prediction. Whether a pseudoword is shown during an auditory rhythm peak or not is irrelevant for its
later recognition memory in silence. Other attention manipulations, dividing attention and focusing
attention, did result in a memory effect. This raises doubts about the suggested attentional nature of
rhythm entrainment. We interpret our findings as support for auditory rhythm perception being based on
auditory-motor entrainment, not general attention entrainment.