Exploring trial-by-trial modulations of the Simon effect

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The present study investigates sequential modulations of the Simon effect. The Simon effect involves faster responses to spatially corresponding than to noncorresponding stimuli, even when stimulus position is irrelevant. Recently, the Simon effect has been shown to decrease or to disappear after noncorresponding predecessor trials. Possible explanations for these sequential modulations include (a) the gating of position-based response activation (conflict monitoring), (b) repetition or alternation effects, and (c) the interaction between feature integration (binding) processes and stimulus-response (S-R) correspondence. Three experiments tested different predictions of these models by comparing Simon effects after neutral trials with those after corresponding and noncorresponding trials, respectively, and by varying the stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA) between and within experiments. Experiments 1 and 2 revealed large Simon effects after corresponding trials, intermediate Simon effects after neutral trials, and small (or no) Simon effects after noncorresponding trials. Moreover, some systematic effects of S-R repetitions and S-R alternations were observed. Finally, the sequential modulations were maximal at short SOAs and decreased with increasing SOA, but still occurred at an SOA of 6 seconds. The results seem to exclude repetition or alternation effects as the main cause of sequential modulations of the Simon effect, but both conflict monitoring and binding may contribute to these effects.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02724980443000269

Affiliations: 1: Friedrich-Alexander Universität, Erlangen, Germany 2: Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany

Publication date: May 1, 2005

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