The Effect of Multimodal Rhythms on the Allocation of Attention Across Sensory Modalities

Doctoral Dissertation


Attention to rhythmic stimuli can be conceptualized as involving periods of variable attention such that the distribution of attention is entrained to the rhythm of the stimulus. This entrainment process has crossmodal consequences, such that both auditory and visual attention is entrained by an auditory rhythm and vice versa, resulting in improved responses to auditory or visual targets when their onsets match the temporal structure of a preceding rhythm. The current study examines the role of multimodal entrainment on the allocation of auditory and visual attention. Specifically, we were interested in situations in which concurrently presented auditory, visual rhythms correspond temporally, and situations in which concurrently presented auditory and visual rhythms conflict temporally. In Experiment 1, participants were
entrained by three different rhythm types: audiovisual, auditory-only, and visual-only. They responded to auditory and visual targets occurring at the end of rhythm that either matched or mismatched the entrainment rhythm. Response time was fastest when targets matched the entrainment rhythm, verifying that entrainment occurred, and did not differ across rhythm type or target modality (auditory vs. visual), indicating that audiovisual entrainment was no more effective than auditory-only or visual-only entrainment. In Experiments 2 and 3, participants were presented with temporally conflicting auditory and visual rhythms. Participants responded to auditory and visual targets that matched the temporal structure of either the auditory or the visual rhythm. Response times were fastest when target onsets matched the temporal structure of the visual rhythm compared to the auditory rhythm and did not differ by target modality. Overall, this work suggests that entrainment is a general attentional mechanism that is applied across sensory modalities. Furthermore, it suggests that when auditory and visual rhythms do not share the same temporal structure the attentional system favors the timing parameters of the visual rhythm.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04182013-144739

Author Jared Edward Miller
Advisor Laura Carlson
Contributor Bradley Gibson, Committee Member
Contributor Laura Carlson, Committee Chair
Contributor James Brockmole, Committee Member
Contributor Sidney DMello, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Psychology
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2013-04-12

Submission Date 2013-04-18
  • United States of America

  • temporal orienting

  • rhythm

  • crossmodal attention

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility and Access Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


Please Note: You may encounter a delay before a download begins. Large or infrequently accessed files can take several minutes to retrieve from our archival storage system.