Looming Sounds

How Can we Redirect the User’s Attention Effectively with Warning Sounds?

February 20, 2019

In our increasingly technical world, we rely more and more on software systems in both our professional and private lives. Employees in industrial production facilities operate with complex machine systems, the automobile industry engages in improving autonomous driving systems, and computer scientists develop Virtual and Augmented Reality solutions that will support us to refurbish our homes or to arrange team meetings independent from where our team partners are located.

Warning sounds control the optimal communication between humans and machines.

In a recent study, Lewis Chuang and Christiane Glatz tested different warning sounds at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. The scientists found out that certain sounds redirected our attention away from an ongoing task better than others. Specifically, looming sounds, which are suggestive of approaching objects, redirected human attention away from an ongoing task as long as they were presented. In contrast, alarms with unchanging intensities steadily lost their attraction with time.

The insights of these SFB-TRR 161 scientists, are reported in the article “The time course of auditory looming cues in redirecting visuo-spatial attention “ in Scientific Reports.

Original Publication:
Christiane Glatz and Lewis L. Chuang, The time course of auditory looming cues in redirecting visuo-spatial attention, Scientific Reports, 2018.

Dr. Lewis Chuang
Phone: +4989 218072318

The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics is one of 84 Max Planck Institutes and facilities of the Max Planck Society, Germany. The aim of the Institute is to understand information processing in the brains of humans and animals. We use experimental, theoretical and computational methods to elucidate the characteristics and implementations of the cascades of plastic and recurrent interactions that transform sensory data into perceptions, memories, appropriate choices of actions, and motor output.

The Collaborative Research Center SFB-TRR 161 “Quantitative Methods for Visual Computing” is a collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects that connects 17 project teams of the University of Stuttgart, University of Konstanz and the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, that are working in four Project Areas, three Task Forces in the field of Visual Computing.

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