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Investigating the time course of tactile reflexive attention using a non-spatial discrimination task.

Miles E, Poliakoff E, Brown RJ

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2008;128( 2).

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Peripheral cues are thought to facilitate responses to stimuli presented at the same location because they lead to exogenous attention shifts. Facilitation has been observed in numerous studies of visual and auditory attention, but there have been only four demonstrations of tactile facilitation, all in studies with potential confounds. Three studies used a spatial (finger versus thumb) discrimination task, where the cue could have provided a spatial framework that might have assisted the discrimination of subsequent targets presented on the same side as the cue. The final study circumvented this problem by using a non-spatial discrimination; however, the cues were informative and interspersed with visual cues which may have affected the attentional effects observed. In the current study, therefore, we used a non-spatial tactile frequency discrimination task following a non-informative tactile white noise cue. When the target was presented 150 ms after the cue, we observed faster discrimination responses to targets presented on the same side compared to the opposite side as the cue; by 1000 ms, responses were significantly faster to targets presented on the opposite side to the cue. Thus, we demonstrated that tactile attentional facilitation can be observed in a non-spatial discrimination task, under unimodal conditions and with entirely non-predictive cues. Furthermore, we provide the first demonstration of significant tactile facilitation and tactile inhibition of return within a single experiment.

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128( 2)
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30th August, 2009, 14:50:55
Last modified by:
Poliakoff, Ellen
Last modified:
21st April, 2010, 11:55:38

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