Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 193–210 | Cite as

From eyes to hands: Transfer of learning in the Simon task across motor effectors

  • Ashika Verghese
  • Jason B. Mattingley
  • Phoebe E. Palmer
  • Paul E. Dux


Inhibition of irrelevant and conflicting information and responses is crucial for goal-directed behaviour and adaptive functioning. In the Simon task, for example, responses are slowed if their mappings are spatially incongruent with stimuli that must be discriminated on a nonspatial dimension. Previous work has shown that practice with incongruent spatial mappings can reduce or even reverse the Simon effect. We asked whether such practice transfers between the manual and oculomotor systems and if so to what extent this occurs across a range of behavioural tasks. In two experiments, one cohort of participants underwent anti-saccade training, during which they repeatedly inhibited the reflexive impulse to look toward a briefly presented target. Additionally, two active-control training groups were included, in which participants either trained on Pro-saccade or Fixation training regimens. In Experiment 1, we probed whether the Simon effect and another inhibitory paradigm, the Stroop task, showed differential effects after training. In Experiment 2, we included a larger battery of inhibitory tasks (Simon, Stroop, flanker and stop-signal) and noninhibitory control measures (multitasking and visual search) to assess the limits of transfer. All three training regimens led to behavioural improvements in the trained-upon task, but only the anti-saccade training group displayed benefits that transferred to the manual response modality. This transfer of training benefit replicated across the two experiments but was restricted to the Simon effect. Evidence for transfer of inhibition training across motor systems offers important insights into the nature of stimulus-response representations and their malleability.


Attention Eye Movements Cognitive inhibition 



This work was supported by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant (DP140100266), the Australian Research Council (ARC) SRI Science of Learning Research Centre (SR120300015) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Brain Function (ARC Centre Grant CE140100007). PED was supported by an ARC Future Fellowship (FT120100033). JBM was supported by an ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship (FL110100103). The authors thank Kristina Horne for assisting with data collection.


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashika Verghese
    • 1
  • Jason B. Mattingley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Phoebe E. Palmer
    • 1
  • Paul E. Dux
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyThe University of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Queensland Brain InstituteThe University of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia

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