Effects of noise on a simple visual attentional task.

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15 male and 15 female subjects scanned an array of lights during one of three types of white-noise conditions (continuous, 1-Hz pulse rate, and 10-Hz pulse rate) at 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90 dB. Detection of light stimuli increased under the lower intensities and decreased under the higher intensities in the continuous and the 1-Hz pulse-rate conditions, but decreased as intensity increased in 10-Hz pulse-rate noise. Detection of peripheral stimuli was greatest during continuous noise and lowest during 10-Hz pulse-rate noise. These data are interpreted in terms of changes in attentional focus which result from altered levels of arousal.

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