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California State University, Long Beach
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Marianne Kodimer, MA

August 1993

A Comparison of the Effects of Auditory Spatial Cues and Auditory Verbal cues on Visual Search Performance as Applied to Air Traffic Detection

Auditory localization cues have been shown to facilitate visual search performance. Specifically, issuance of a sound from the same position occupied by a visual target reduces target detection latency. The purpose of this study was to investigate one potential application of this technology–facilitating within-cockpit air traffic detection. Towards this end, a comparison of the effect of auditory spatial cues and auditory verbal cues (similar to those provided to pilots by air traffic controllers) on visual search performance was conducted.
The results of this study showed that the spatial cue elicited shorter detection latencies when response to the cue was immediate, whereas the verbal cue elicited shorter latencies when response to the cue was delayed. Based on the findings, inferences were made regarding the disparate characteristics and processing requirements of the two cue types, and the effect of retaining spatial versus verbal auditory information.