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Emerging features of modality mappings in task switching: modality compatibility requires variability at the level of both stimulus and response modality

Abstract

The term modality compatibility refers to the similarity between the stimulus modality and the modality of response-related sensory consequences. Previous research showed evidence for modality compatibility benefits in task switching, when participants switch either between two modality compatible tasks (auditory-vocal and visual-manual) or between two modality incompatible tasks (auditory-manual and visual-vocal). However, it remained unclear whether there is also a modality compatibility benefit when participants switch between a modality compatible and an incompatible task. To this end, in Experiment 1, we kept the same design as in earlier studies, so participants had to switch either between modality compatible or modality incompatible spatial discrimination tasks, but in Experiment 2A, participants switched at the response level (manual/vocal) while we kept the stimulus modality constant across tasks, and in Experiment 2B, they switched at the stimulus level (visual/auditory) while we kept the response modality constant across tasks. We found increased switch costs in modality incompatible tasks in Experiment 1, but no such a difference between modality compatible and incompatible tasks in Experiment 2A and 2B, supporting the idea that modality incompatible tasks increase crosstalk, due to the response-based priming of the competing task, but this crosstalk is reduced if the competing task involves either the same stimulus modality or the same response modality. We conclude that a significant impact of modality compatibility in task switching requires variability at the level of both stimulus and response modality.

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Correspondence to Edina Fintor.

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Funding

This study was funded by (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, KO 2045/19-1). DFG Priority Program (Schwerpunktprogramm) SPP 1772.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that she has no conflict of interest (financial or non-financial). Moreover, we have full control of all primary data and we agree to allow the journal to review the data if requested.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in the present study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standard.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

This research was supported by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, KO 2045/19-1). DFG Priority Program (Schwerpunktprogramm) SPP 1772. The authors would like to thank Edita Poljac, Lea Hald, Wilfried Kunde, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments on an earlier version of this article. Thanks also go to Maximilan Richter for his help in conducting the experiments.

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Fintor, E., Stephan, D.N. & Koch, I. Emerging features of modality mappings in task switching: modality compatibility requires variability at the level of both stimulus and response modality. Psychological Research 82, 121–133 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-017-0875-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-017-0875-5