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The "pip-and-pop effect" refers to the facilitation of search for a visual target (a horizontal or vertical bar whose color changes frequently) among multiple visual distractors (tilted bars also changing color unpredictably) by the presentation of a spatially uninformative auditory cue synchronized with the color change of the visual target. In the present study, the visual stimuli in the search display changed brightness instead of color, and the crossmodal congruency between the pitch of the auditory cue and the brightness of the visual target was manipulated. When cue presence and cue congruency were randomly varied between trials (Experiment 1), both congruent cues (low-frequency tones synchronized with dark target states or high-frequency tones synchronized with bright target states) and incongruent cues (the reversed mapping) facilitated visual search performance equally, relative to a no-cue baseline condition. However, when cue congruency was blocked and the participants were informed about the pitch-brightness mapping in the cue-present blocks (Experiment 2), performance was significantly enhanced when the cue and target were crossmodally congruent as compared to when they were incongruent. These results therefore suggest that the crossmodal congruency between auditory pitch and visual brightness can influence performance in the pip-and-pop task by means of top-down facilitation.

Original publication




Journal article


Atten Percept Psychophys

Publication Date





1154 - 1167


Adult, Attention, Child, Color Perception, Contrast Sensitivity, Cues, Discrimination (Psychology), Female, Humans, Infant, Male, Middle Aged, Orientation, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Pitch Perception, Psychophysics, Reaction Time, Young Adult