Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

The Error Protection Impact of Inhibitory After-Effects in a Location-Based Task and Its Preservation with Practice

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

The Error Protection Impact of Inhibitory After-Effects in a Location-Based Task and Its Preservation with Practice

Article excerpt

Published online: 13 June 2014

# The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract In location-based tasks, responses related to (prime trial) distractor-occupied locations automatically undergo activation, followed by inhibition, which causes these responses to become execution-resistant (ER). Distractor-response ER takes time to override, delaying target reactions that later require this response (e.g., probe, ignored-repetition trials), causing the spatial negative priming (SNP) phenomenon. We learned in this study that distractor-response ER affords this output a degree of error protection. Specifically, when the probe target appeared at a new location, former (prime) distractor responses were used erroneously significantly less often than their control response counterparts, likely due to their ER feature, which discourages their inappropriate selection (i.e., "ER" provides error protection). This error protection also was evident when a previous distractor response was activated by a distractor on the probe (i.e., distractor-repeat trial). Notably, error protection remained effective over extensive practice, as did SNP size (i.e., ER override time) after an initial decline.

Keywords Inhibitory after-effects . Error protection . Longevity . Location processing

Introduction

In the spatial negative priming (SNP) tasks of interest, a visual target and/or distractor event are presented centrally (Buckolz, Fitzgeorge, & Knowles, 2012b) in trial pairs; first the prime, then the probe. Responding to a probe trial target'sposition takes longer when it appears at a location previously occupied by the prime distractor (i.e., an ignored-repetition [IR] trial), compared with when it arises at a formerly unoccupied prime location (i.e., a control trial) (Milliken, Tipper, Houghton, & Lupianez, 2000; Neill, Terry, & Valdes, 1994). This latency imbalance is the most common index of SNP.

One recent explanation of SNP contends that the process- ing associated with distractor-occupied prime trial positions excludes the inhibition of the location itself, while including the activation (A) and subsequent inhibition (I) of the distractor location's assigned response (Buckolz, Edgar, Kajaste, Lok, & Khan, 2012a; Guy, Buckolz, & Khan, 2006; Buckolz, Lok, Kajaste, Edgar, & Khan, 2014; Fitzgeorge, Buckolz, & Khan, 2011). This inhibition then renders the response to which it is applied execution resistant (ER).1 Because a representation of prime-trial distractor processing is stored (Fitzgeorge & Buckolz, 2008; Haworth, Buckolz, & Kajaste, 2014), the distractor-response ER feature can be retrieved for the lifespan of this representation, when the probe trial is delivered. When a retrieved distractor response is required (either forced [ignored-repetition trials] or self- selected [free choice trials]; Fitzgeorge et al., 2011), its ER characteristic can influence later processing (collectively called, "inhibitory after-effects").

Three inhibitory after-effects resulting from prime distractor response inhibition have been identified in location-based tasks. The first is the SNP effect itself. The required use of a prime distractor response on an ignored- repetition trial lengthens its reaction time, because it takes time to override its execution resistance (ER) feature. A second ER-induced inhibitory after-effect manifests itself when manual response error rates are higher for ignored- repetition than for control trials (Buckolz, Avramidis, & Fitzgeorge, 2008; Fitzgeorge & Buckolz, 2008). Presumably, this error imbalance arises, because efforts to override the ER feature of the distractor response on ignored-repetition trials are unsuccessful, necessarily producing a response selection error. A third inhibitory after-effect arises on free choice trials, where two permissible responses have been assigned to a single location. Subjects show a significant selection-bias against choosing a former distractor response when it com- petes against a control response (Fitzgeorge et al. …

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