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30-08-2015 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2016

Psychological Research 6/2016

Stimulus–response correspondence in go–nogo and choice tasks: Are reactions altered by the presence of an irrelevant salient object?

Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2016
Mei-Ching Lien, Logan Pedersen, Robert W. Proctor


In 2-choice tasks, responses are faster when stimulus location corresponds to response location, even when stimulus location is irrelevant. Dolk et al. (J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 39:1248–1260, 2013a) found this stimulus–response correspondence effect with a single response location in a go–nogo task when an irrelevant Japanese waving cat was present. They argued that salient objects trigger spatial coding of the response relative to that object. We examined this claim using both behavioral and lateralized readiness potential (LRP) measures. In Experiment 1 participants determined the pitch of a left- or right-positioned tone, whereas in Experiment 2 they determined the color of a dot within a centrally located hand pointing left, right, or straight ahead. In both experiments, participants performed a go–nogo task with the right-index finger and a 2-choice task with both index fingers, with a left-positioned Japanese waving cat present or absent. For the go–nogo task, the cat induced a correspondence effect on response times (RT) to the tones (Experiment 1) but not the visual stimuli (Experiment 2). For the 2-choice task, a correspondence effect was evident in all conditions in both experiments. Cat’s presence/absence did not significantly modulate the effect for right and left responses, although there was a trend toward increased RT and LRP for right responses in Experiment 1. The results imply that a salient, irrelevant object could provide a reference frame for response coding when attention is available to process it, as is likely in an auditory task (Experiment 1) but not a visual task (Experiment 2).

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