The impact of response modality in an audiovisual Stroop task

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Tomy, Stephanie
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What we see, hear, and remember depends largely on the information we receive from our senses. Given that our attentional resources are limited, coupled with the abundance of incoming sensory information, we must learn how to focus on task-relevant information while ignoring irrelevant stimuli. Humans use multisensory integration to help combine sensory information from different modalities so that it can be processed and perceived as a single percept. It is consistently reported that multimodal stimuli are responded to more quickly and accurately as compared to unimodal stimuli. The concept of attention supports the central nervous system with this process by directing attention to specific parameters based on task instructions. To determine how competing and/or supporting sensory information are processed, movement trajectories were recorded using three-dimensional motion capture while participants completed a two-choice goal-directed reaching task in response to audiovisual Stroop stimuli, in either both a respond-visual and respond-auditory conditions. In contrast to the predictions, response modality did not influence reaction time (RT), or movement time (MT). However, auditory-neutral trials led to significantly longer RTs. Consistent with the hypotheses, the respond-visual condition led to earlier trajectory deviations, especially when the written word was congruent with the auditory stimulus. Results are discussed in light of current models of goal-directed reaching by assessing how multisensory integration and attention impact voluntary movement. Ultimately these models can help to inform the design of new technology interfaces.
Attention, Multisensory integration, Stroop