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Searching for meaning in sound: Learning and interpreting alarm signals in visual environments.

McDougall, S., Edworthy, J., Sinimeri, D., Goodliffe, J., Bradley, D. and Foster, J., 2019. Searching for meaning in sound: Learning and interpreting alarm signals in visual environments. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 26 (1), 89-107.

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Learning and interpreting alarm sounds revision3.pdf - Accepted Version
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DOI: 10.1037/xap0000238


Given the ease with which the diverse array of environmental sounds can be understood, the difficulties encountered in using auditory alarm signals on medical devices are surprising. In two experiments, with non-clinical participants, alarm sets which relied on similarities to environmental sounds (concrete alarms, such as a heartbeat sound to indicate ‘check cardiovascular function’) were compared to alarms using abstract tones to represent functions on medical devices. The extent to which alarms were acoustically diverse was also examined: alarm sets were either acoustically different or acoustically similar within each set. In Experiment 1 concrete alarm sets, which were also acoustically different, were learned more quickly than abstract alarms which were acoustically similar. Importantly, the abstract similar alarms were devised using guidelines from the current global medical device standard (IEC 60601-1-8, 2012). Experiment 2 replicated these findings. In addition, eye tracking data showed that participants were most likely to fixate first on the correct medical devices in an operating theatre scene when presented with concrete acoustically different alarms using real world sounds. A new set of alarms which are related to environmental sounds and differ acoustically have therefore been proposed as a replacement for the current medical device standard.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Auditory alarms; Eye tracking; Semantic networks; IEC 60601-1-8; Alarm signals
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:32309
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:20 May 2019 10:23
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:16


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