Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Sequential Modulations of Correspondence Effects across Spatial Dimensions and Tasks

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Sequential Modulations of Correspondence Effects across Spatial Dimensions and Tasks

Article excerpt

In two experiments, we explored sequential modulations of correspondence effects in a prime-target paradigm. In Experiment 1, the participants responded to the direction of target arrows that were preceded by prime arrows with a corresponding or noncorresponding direction. This produced a prime-target correspondence effect that was reduced when the preceding trial contained a noncorresponding prime-target event. This sequential modulation of the correspondence effect was observed even when neither stimuli nor responses were repeated from one trial to the next, ruling out explanations of sequential modulations in terms of stimulus or response repetitions. Experiment 2 combined the prime-target correspondence effect with a Simon-type correspondence effect. Both effects were reduced following noncorrespondence of the same type and, to a lesser extent, following noncorrespondence of the other type. Altogether, these results suggest that part of the sequential modulation of correspondence effects reflects an adaptation to a preceding response conflict independently of the peripheral stimulus events that produced this conflict.

Many of our everyday activities are subserved by highly practiced stimulus-response (S-R) routines. Pushing a car's gas pedal at a green traffic light, grasping for a cup of coffee, or shaking hands with someone at a meeting are examples of cases in which we encounter situations with approved, and thus prepotent, behavioral responses. Sometimes, however, routine responses are inadequate. For example, we must not press the gas pedal when the green traffic light signals another lane, and grasping a cup in the standard way may be dangerous if the cup has an atypical shape. Thus, habitual responses to a given situation can turn out to be inapplicable. These are situations in which cognitive control is assumed to come into play (e.g., Norman & Shallice, 1986). A natural consequence of experiencing such problems is to abandon behavioral routines and to enter into a more cautious response mode.

With so-called conflict tasks, it is possible to study experimentally how our cognitive system handles such problems. In these tasks, a conflict can occur between a certain instructed response to a stimulus and another, prepotent response suggested by some nominally task-irrelevant aspect of the stimulus display. Typically, performance deteriorates when such a conflict exists, as compared with when it does not. For example, in the Simon task, responding is slower and more error prone when the taskirrelevant location of a stimulus and the location of the stimulus-assigned response do not match (e.g., responding to a left-sided stimulus with a right-sided response) than when they do match (Simon, 1969). Another conflict task is the Stroop task, in which participants are required to name the color of color words (e.g., the word red presented in green color). In other types of conflict tasks, the irrelevant information is conveyed by an extra stimulus, as in the prime-target paradigm. Here, task-relevant targets (e.g., a left-pointing arrow calling for a left keypress) are preceded by irrelevant but target-resembling primes (e.g., another arrow). Again, performance is superior when the prime and the target indicate identical, rather than different, responses (e.g., Neumann & Klotz, 1994; Vorberg, Mattler, Heinecke, Schmidt, & Schwarzbach, 2003).

An interesting question relates to the processes that come into play after a response conflict has occurred. One robust finding at the behavioral level is that many compatibility effects are reduced after an incompatible S-R episode. This is true for different conflict tasks, such as the Simon task (Hommel, Proctor, & Vu, 2004; Kunde & Stocker, 2002; Praamstra, Kleine, & Schnitzler, 1999; Sturmer, Leuthold, Soetens, Schroter, & Sommer, 2002), the Eriksen task (Botvinick, Nystrom, Fissell, Carter, & Cohen, 1999; Gratton, Coles, & Donchin, 1992), and the prime-target task (Kunde, 2003). …

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