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This study was designed to assess the potential benefits of using spatial auditory warning signals in a simulated driving task. In particular, the authors assessed the possible facilitation of responses (braking or accelerating) to potential emergency driving situations (the rapid approach of a car from the front or from behind) seen through the windshield or the rearview mirror. Across 5 experiments, the authors assessed the efficacy of nonspatial-nonpredictive (neutral), spatially nonpredictive (50% valid), and spatially predictive (80% valid) car horn sounds, as well as symbolic predictive and spatially presented symbolic predictive verbal cues (the words "front" or "back") in directing the participant's visual attention to the relevant direction. The results suggest that spatially predictive semantically meaningful auditory warning signals may provide a particularly effective means of capturing attention.

Original publication




Journal article


J Exp Psychol Appl

Publication Date





157 - 174


Adolescent, Adult, Attention, Auditory Perception, Automobile Driving, Cues, Female, Humans, Male, Space Perception, Visual Perception