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Investigating the nature and time-course of the modality shift effect between vision and touch

Miles E, Brown R, Poliakoff E

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 2011;64(5):871-888.

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It is well known that stimuli grab attention to their location, but do they also grab attention to their sensory modality? The modality shift effect (MSE), the observation that responding to a stimulus leads to reaction time benefits for subsequent stimuli in the same modality, suggests that this may be the case. If noninformative cue stimuli, which do not require a response, also lead to benefits for their modality, this would suggest that the effect is automatic. We investigated the time-course of the visuotactile MSE and the difference between the effects of cues and targets. In Experiment 1, when visual and tactile tasks and stimulus locations were matched, uninformative cues did not lead to reaction time benefits for targets in the same modality. However, the modality of the previous target led to a significant MSE. Only stimuli that require a response, therefore, appear to lead to reaction time benefits for their modality. In Experiment 2, increasing attention to the cue stimuli attenuated the effect of the previous target, but the cues still did not lead to a MSE. In Experiment 3, a MSE was demonstrated between successive targets, and this effect decreased with increasing intertrial intervals. Overall, these studies demonstrate how cue- and target-induced effects interact and suggest that modalities do not automatically capture attention as locations do; rather, the MSE is more similar to other task repetition effects.

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Created by:
Poliakoff, Ellen
4th November, 2010, 15:54:57
Last modified:
26th October, 2015, 17:20:40

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