On the inability to ignore touch when responding to vision in the crossmodal congruency task.
Spence C., Walton M.
We investigated the extent to which people can selectively ignore distracting vibrotactile information when performing a visual task. In Experiment 1, participants made speeded elevation discrimination responses (up vs. down) to a series of visual targets presented from one of two eccentricities on either side of central fixation, while simultaneously trying to ignore task-irrelevant vibrotactile distractors presented independently to the finger (up) vs. thumb (down) of either hand. Participants responded significantly more slowly, and somewhat less accurately, when the elevation of the vibrotactile distractor was incongruent with that of the visual target than when they were presented from the same (i.e., congruent) elevation. This crossmodal congruency effect was significantly larger when the visual and tactile stimuli appeared on the same side of space than when they appeared on different sides, although the relative eccentricity of the two stimuli within the hemifield (i.e., same vs. different) had little effect on performance. In Experiment 2, participants who crossed their hands over the midline showed a very different pattern of crossmodal congruency effects to participants who adopted an uncrossed hands posture. Our results suggest that both the relative external location and the initial hemispheric projection of the target and distractor stimuli contribute jointly to determining the magnitude of the crossmodal congruency effect when participants have to respond to vision and ignore touch.