Reorienting the mind: The impact of novel sounds on go/no-go performance
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
American Psychological Association
The present study explores the link between attentional reorienting and response inhibition. Recent behavioral and neuroscience work indicates that both might rely on similar cognitive and neural mechanisms. We tested two popular accounts of the overlap: The ‘circuit breaker’ account, which assumes that unexpected events produce global suppression of motor output, and the ‘stimulus detection’ account, which assumes that attention is reoriented to unexpected events. In Experiment 1, we presented standard and (unexpected) novel sounds in a go/no-go task. Consistent with the stimulus detection account, we found longer RTs on go trials and higher rates of commission errors on no-go trials when these were preceded by a novel sound compared with a standard sound. In Experiment 2, novel and standard sounds acted as no-go signals. In this experiment, the novel sounds produced an improvement on no-go trials. This further highlights the importance of stimulus detection for response inhibition. Combined, the two experiments support the idea that attention is oriented to novel or unexpected events, impairing no-go performance if these events are irrelevant but enhancing no-go performance when they are relevant. Our findings also indicate that the popular circuit breaker account of the overlap between response inhibition and attentional reorienting needs some revision.
European Research Council
The dataset associated with this paper is in ORE; see http://hdl.handle.net/10871/17644
© 2015 American Psychological Association
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Vol. 41 (5), pp. 1197-1202