Tactile Spatial Negative Priming Occurs without Feature Mismatch

By Frings, Christian; Mast, Frank et al. | Attention, Perception and Psychophysics, November 2014 | Go to article overview

Tactile Spatial Negative Priming Occurs without Feature Mismatch


Frings, Christian, Mast, Frank, Spence, Charles, Attention, Perception and Psychophysics


Published online: 19 June 2014

(£> The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Negative priming (NP) refers to fact that people respond more slowly and make more errors when responding to target stimuli that were previously ignored. This phenomenon has also been observed when participants respond to the location, and not only to the identity, of the stimulus. Intriguingly, while roughly the same pattem of results has been observed in the visual, auditory, and tactile modalities when it comes to identity-based NP, the same does not hold true for spatial NP: In particular, feature mismatch seems to be the sole cause of auditory spatial NP, whereas response inhibition would appear to be the sole cause of spatial NP in vision. We conducted a novel tactile variant of the spatial NP task. We investigated whether spatial NP in the tactile modality exists, and further, we investigated whether the pattern of spatial NP in the tactile modality compares with what has been documented previously in vision or audition. Tactile spatial NP was observed, and it was independent of feature mismatch, thereby reflecting a comparable pattem as visual spatial NP. We discuss spatial selection with respect to possible modality-specific processes.

Keywords Touch · Negative priming · Spatial · Response inhibition · Touch · Vision · Audition

It is commonly agreed that if a to-be-ignored stimulus (distractor) from a prime display becomes the to-be-selected stimulus (target) in the subsequent probe display, a person's response to the identity of this target will likely be impaired in terms of the latency and/or accuracy of their response (Dalrymple-Alford & Budayr, 1966). This robust empirical phenomenon, known as negative priming (NP; Tipper, 1985), has been observed in a wide variety of different tasks and populations (for reviews, see Fox, 1995; Tipper, 2001). By now, NP has been reported in numerous visual (e.g., Frings & Wentura, 2006; Neill, 1997; Tipper & Cranston, 1985), auditory (Leboe, Mondor, & Leboe, 2006; Mayr & Buchner, 2007), and tactile (Frings, Bader, & Spence, 2008; Frings & Spence, 2011, 2013) studies, as well as in the olfactory modality (Olsson, 1999). Moreover, there would now appear to be a consensus amongst most researchers that NP taps selective control mechanisms (although it should be noted that NP can be observed without selection in the prime display [e.g., Joordens, Betancourt, & Spalek, 2006] or in the probe display [e.g., Frings & Wentura, 2006]). Nevertheless, the exact nature of these control processes is still a topic of heated debate (e.g., Neill, 2007). In this article, we analyze for the first time a spatial variant of NP in the tactile modality. At first, we briefly discuss identity-based NP in general and then, in more detail, introduce what is already known about spatial NP in the visual and auditory modalities.

A coarse-grained taxonomy of theories ofNP differentiates between inhibition- (Houghton & Tipper, 1994; Tipper, 1985) and retrieval-based (e.g., Milliken, Joordens, Merikle, & Seiffert, 1998; Neill, 1997; Rothermund, Wentura, & DeHouwer, 2005) accounts. According to retrieval theories, NP is caused by an automatic retrieval process that is initiated when participants process the probe target, the assumption being that processing the target stimulus activates memory traces associated with that particular stimulus. When the ignored distractor from the prime trial becomes the target in the probe trial (ignored-repetition [IR] condition), the last memory trace of the current target stimulus may contain information such as "distractor" or "do-not-respond" or else may be linked to the response that was given when this stimulus was present the last time. It is this information that interferes with a person's ability to respond quickly and accurately to the current target. By contrast, according to inhibition theory, the abstract representation of the distractor stimulus is actively suppressed by mechanisms of selective attention during the processing of the prime episode. …

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