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Six experiments, using 82 right-handed male undergraduates, investigated the finding that the detection of stop consonants is more impaired than detection of several other types of targets when it is performed concurrently with another task. The experiments showed that similar results hold for other auditory stimuli of comparable brevity. Exps IV compared the detection of stop-consonant targets with that of other auditory targets (i.e., syntactic, semantic, vocalic, and syllabic). Target detection was assessed both in isolation and in combination with an additional task (i.e., auditory verbal, auditory nonverbal, or motor). The addition of other tasks differentially impaired stop-consonant detection in both speed and accuracy. Exps V and IV investigated the hypothesis that this result was a function of the relatively short duration of the stops. The experiments contrasted the detection of short and long pairings of tones, consonants, and vowels, both in isolation and with additional tasks. Relative impairments of performance in dual-task conditions with short-duration stimuli were found. Results demonstrate that dual-task performance is specifically impaired when 1 of the tasks forces processing to utilize brief decision units. It is suggested that this impairment is the consequence of competition for access to a fine-timing mechanism that is used in dual-task coordination. (102 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved). © 1984 American Psychological Association.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance

Publication Date





794 - 811