Reversing the Colavita visual dominance effect

TitleReversing the Colavita visual dominance effect
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsNgo MK, Cadieux M, Sinnett S, Soto-Faraco S, Spence C
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Date Published10/2011
KeywordsAuditory dominance, Colavita; Repetition detection, Masking, Visual dominance

Many researchers have taken the Colavita effect to represent a paradigm case of visual dominance. Broadly defined, the effect occurs when people fail to respond to an auditory target if they also have to respond to a visual target presented at the same time. Previous studies have revealed the remarkable resilience of this effect to various manipulations. In fact, a reversal of the Colavita visual dominance effect (i.e., auditory dominance) has never been reported. Here, we present a series of experiments designed to investigate whether it is possible to reverse the Colavita effect when the target stimuli consist of repetitions embedded in simultaneously presented auditory and visual streams of stimuli. In line with previous findings, the Colavita effect was still observed for an immediate repetition task, but when an n-1 repetition detection task was used, a reversal of visual dominance was demonstrated. These results suggest that masking from intervening stimuli between n-1 repetition targets was responsible for the elimination and reversal of the Colavita visual dominance effect. They further suggest that varying the presence of a mask (pattern, conceptual, or absent) in the repetition detection task gives rise to different patterns of sensory dominance (i.e., visual dominance, an elimination of the Colavita effect, or even auditory dominance).