Two experiments were conducted to determine whether the auditory and visual systems process simultaneously presented pairs of alphanumeric information differently. In Experiment 1, different groups of subjects were given extensive practice recalling pairs of superimposed visual or auditory digits in simultaneous order (the order of arrival) or successive order (one member of each digit pair in turn, followed by the other pair member). For auditory input, successive order of recall was more accurate, particularly for the last two of three pairs presented, whereas for visual input, simultaneous order of recall was more accurate. In Experiment 2, subjects were cued to recall in one or the other order either immediately before or after stimulus input. Recall order results were the same as for Experiment 1, and precuing did not facilitate recall in either order for both modalities. These results suggest that processing in the auditory system can only occur successively across time, whereas as in the visual system processing can only occur simultaneously in space.
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