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05-08-2019 | Original Article

Response control by primes, targets, and distractors: from feedforward activation to controlled inhibition

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research
Auteurs:
Filipp Schmidt, Thomas Schmidt
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Abstract

The visual system has to distinguish between information that is relevant and irrelevant for current behavioral goals. This is especially important in automatized responses. Here, we study how task-irrelevant distractors with task-relevant features gain access to speeded, automatized motor responses in a response-priming paradigm. In two tasks, we present distractors either together with primes or with targets, and vary the consistency between primes/targets and distractors as well as the number and saturation of distractors. Our findings are consistent with accounts where primes, targets, and distractors contribute to response activations by sequential feedforward response activation. In addition, conditions with especially salient target–distractors seem to lead to active inhibition of the primed response that occurs late in the trial. We replicate all main findings in a control experiment. Together, our findings show that the effects of distractors depend on (i) their stimulus characteristics as well as on (ii) the phase at which they enter visual processing—with effects ranging from feedforward activation to controlled inhibition of responses.

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