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Journal Article

Processing of irrelevant location information under dual-task conditions

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Citation

Müsseler, J., Wühr, P., & Umiltà, C. (2006). Processing of irrelevant location information under dual-task conditions. Psychological Research, 70(6), 459-467. doi:10.1007/s00426-005-0010-x.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-D287-E
Abstract
This study deals with the problem of whether the processing of irrelevant location information in Simon-like tasks is triggered exogenously or endogenously. In Experiment 1, the primary task required one to press, as fast as possible, a left-hand-side key or a right-hand-side key (R1) to the pitch of a tone that was presented binaurally (S1). The secondary task required identifying, without time constraints, a visual stimulus (S2) that appeared randomly to the left or right of screen center. Results showed that there was a correspondence (i.e., a cross-task Simon effect) between the location of R1 and the location of S2 when S2 was presented alone. The cross-task Simon effect became much smaller (and insignificant) when a noise stimulus was presented contralateral to S2. Experiment 2 was similar to Experiment 1, except that S2 appeared unpredictably in only one-third of the trials. Results of Experiment 2 closely replicated those of Experiment 1: the cross-task Simon effect was much greater when S2 was presented alone. Experiment 3 differed from Experiment 1 because S2 had to be processed in only one-third of the trials, in which its identity was to be reported. In the remaining two-thirds of the trials, participants could ignore S2. Results confirmed that the cross-task Simon effect was much greater when S2 was presented alone. In contrast, it did not matter whether S2 had to be processed or not. In conclusion, the present study supports the hypothesis that the task-irrelevant spatial code of the stimulus is formed automatically, likely through an exogenously triggered selection. The role of endogenously initiated selection, if any, is much less important.