Investigating the flanker effect with high-level visual stimuli
36.326, Sunday, May 12, 2:45 - 6:45 pm, Royal Ballroom 6-8
Hagit Magen1; 1School of OT, Faculty of Medicine, the Hebrew University
In the flanker task, participants respond slower to the target in the presence of incongruent distractors than in the presence of neutral distractors, demonstrating the occurrence of a response conflict in the incongruent condition. The flanker effect has been used extensively to study the interaction between perception and action. Interestingly, the effect has been demonstrated almost exclusively with low-level visual stimuli (e.g., shapes, colors). The present study examined response interference in the flanker task using high-level visual stimuli. In Experiments 1-3, two objects (chairs) were assigned to two responses (a third object (chair) served as the neutral distractor). In Experiment 1 a central target was flanked by two congruent, incongruent or neutral distractors. The results showed a small repetition effect from the congruent (identical) distractors, but no interference from the incongruent distractors (i.e. RT was similar in the incongruent and neutral conditions). We hypothesized that the lack of interference could result from perceptual limitations in processing the lateralized distractors. Therefore, in Experiment 2 a single central (congruent, incongruent or neutral) distractor preceded the occurrence of the central target. The results showed a large repetition effect from the congruent distractors with no response interference from the incongruent distractors. In Experiment 3, the same flanker task was followed on half of the trials by a distractor recognition task, to verify that the distractor was processed. Accuracy in the recognition task was 92%, yet the incongruent distractor did not interfere with target processing. Experiment 4 showed a lack of response interference in a sequential flanker task with pictures of natural scenes. The results demonstrate a lack of response interference in the flanker task with high-level visual stimuli, and suggest that the processes that link perception and action in high-level visual stimuli may be different from those operating on low-level visual stimuli.