On April 13th-14th, the University of Minho hosted the 13th Annual Meeting of the Portuguese Society for Experimental Psychology (APPE), an exciting and stimulating event gathering researchers in all fields of experimental psychology from all around Portugal and, as this year's Keynote Speaker, Prof. Fabrice Parmentier.
Keynote conference by Fabrice Parmentier: Why do unexpected sounds distract us?
Unexpected auditory stimuli presented in the context of an otherwise repetitive or structured acoustic background ineluctably break through selective attention filters and capture our attention. Past research abundantly described the electrophysiological markers of such phenomenon. Unexpected sounds also affect behavioral performance in an ongoing, unrelated, task, resulting in distraction. Such distraction typically translates in slower response to target stimuli. While this effect was initially regarded as a simple byproduct of an involuntary orienting response towards novelty, recent studies have shed light on the cognitive mechanisms underpinning this effect and unearthed a number of factors mediating it. In this talk, I will review experimental results aiming to identify the cognitive determinants of this type of distraction, its mediation by some stimulus- and participant-based characteristics, and present some recent evidence suggesting that unexpected sounds might disrupt motor actions.