The Effect of Predictability on Auditory Sequence Processing; A Web-Based Behavioural Experiment

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In everyday life we encounter many complex sounds. In order to deal with these different and changing sounds, our brain is highly equipped with the ability to analyse them and detect which of these sounds are regular, predict and form meanings from these sounds (speech sounds for example), and other random sounds (noises in the street). However, the process in which the brain is able to do that is not fully understood. In this study, we test whether predicable auditory pattern can aid behavioural performance when compared to random tones. To test this, we used a probabilistic pattern in auditory tones (regular) and a randomly assigned pattern. Behavioural tests include hit rate, false alarm rate and reaction time were compared between the two types of patterns. Furthermore, this study was conducted in an online platform. To explore the effect of different types of equipment introduced online, behavioural performances were compared between different types of equipment (desktop versus laptop, wired keyboard versus laptop keyboard, on/over ear headphones versus in ear headphones). Forty-three participants were recruited using web-based recruiting platform. The results showed that participant performed significantly better in hit rate and false alarm rate. However, reaction times between regular tone and random ones yielded non-significant effects. In terms of equipment effect, the study showed a significant effect of computer type and keyboard type on behavioural performance but not to headphone type. This study concludes that in line with the literature, statistical regularities does aid performance. The other conclusion is that the main effects of different types of equipment can introduce a variability in the behavioural results and it is challenging to conduct and auditory experiment online.