Auditory stimuli degrade visual performance in virtual reality

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Abstract

We report an auditory effect of visual performance degradation in a virtual reality (VR) setting, where the viewing conditions are significantly different from previous studies. With the presentation of temporally congruent but spatially incongruent sound, we can degrade visual performance significantly at detection and recognition levels. We further show that this effect is robust to different types and locations of both auditory and visual stimuli. We also analyze participants behavior with an eye tracker to study the underlying cause of the degradation effect. We find that the performance degradation occurs even in the absence of saccades towards the sound source, during normal gaze behavior. This suggests that this effect is not caused by oculomotor phenomena, but rather by neural interactions or attentional shifts.

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Malpica, S., Serrano, A., Gutierrez, D., & Masia, B. (2020). Auditory stimuli degrade visual performance in virtual reality. Scientific Reports, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69135-3

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