On the temporal dynamics of spatial stimulus-response transfer between spatial incompatibility and Simon tasks

Ivanoff, Jason; Blagdon, Ryan; Feener, Stefanie; McNeil, Melanie; Muir, Paul
July 2014
Frontiers in Neuroscience;Jul2014, preceding p1
Academic Journal
The Simon effect refers to the performance (response time and accuracy) advantage for responses that spatially correspond to the task-irrelevant location of a stimulus. It has been attributed to a natural tendency to respond toward the source of stimulation. When location is task-relevant, however, and responses are intentionally directed away (incompatible) or towards (compatible) the source of the stimulation, there is also an advantage for spatially compatible responses over spatially incompatible responses. Interestingly, a number of studies have demonstrated a reversed, or reduced, Simon effect following practice with a spatial incompatibility task. One interpretation of this finding is that practicing a spatial incompatibility task disables the natural tendency to respond toward stimuli. Here, the temporal dynamics of this stimulus-response (S-R) transfer were explored with speed-accuracy trade-offs (SATs). All experiments used the mixed-task paradigm in which Simon and spatial compatibility/incompatibility tasks were interleaved across blocks of trials. In general, bidirectional S-R transfer was observed: while the spatial incompatibility task had an influence on the Simon effect, the task-relevant S-R mapping of the Simon task also had a small impact on congruency effects within the spatial compatibility and incompatibility tasks. These effects were generally greater when the task contexts were similar. Moreover, the SAT analysis of performance in the Simon task demonstrated that the tendency to respond to the location of the stimulus was not eliminated because of the spatial incompatibility task. Rather, S-R transfer from the spatial incompatibility task appeared to partially mask the natural tendency to respond to the source of stimulation with a conflicting inclination to respond away from it. These findings support the use of SAT methodology to quantitatively describe rapid response tendencies.


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