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01-11-2003 | Original Article | Uitgave 4/2003

Psychological Research 4/2003

The role of temporal unpredictability for process interference and code overlap in perception-action dual tasks

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 4/2003
Auteurs:
Iring Koch, Barbaros Metin, Stefanie Schuch

Abstract.

Two experiments explore interference in dual tasks. The first task required perceptual judgment of the movement direction (left vs right) of a briefly presented stimulus; the second task was a tone-discrimination reaction-time (RT) task. Participants reported their judgment at leisure. In 50% of the trials they were told to ignore the stimulus (no report). The directions of stimulus movement and response in the RT task could either be the same or different, establishing cross-task compatibility (CTC) relations. We varied the degree of temporal unpredictability by using two stimulus-onset asynchronies (SOA, 100 ms vs 1200 ms) for the task stimuli. In Experiment 1, SOA was varied randomly within blocks of trials in one group and between blocks in another group. In Experiment 2, only the short SOA was used in one group and only the long SOA in another group. In both experiments, we observed substantially longer RTs with the short compared with the long SOA, regardless of whether there was temporal certainty (blocked or constant SOA) or uncertainty (random SOA) about stimulus onset. We assume that the process of encoding into short-term memory in one task interferes with concurrent retrieval processes (i.e., response selection) in the other task. This process interference effect was strongly reduced in no-report trials. Furthermore, we found shorter RT in compatible than in incompatible trials. This CTC effect diminished with long SOA but occurred even in no-report trials, implying that it refers to an automatically activated and then decaying code that primes response selection in the RT task.

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