Implicit processing of tactile information: evidence from the tactile change detection paradigm.

Research paper by David D Pritchett, Alberto A Gallace, Charles C Spence

Indexed on: 05 Apr '11Published on: 05 Apr '11Published in: Consciousness and Cognition


People can maintain accurate representations of visual changes without necessarily being aware of them. Here, we investigate whether a similar phenomenon (implicit change detection) also exists in touch. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants detected the presence of a change between two consecutively-presented tactile displays. Tactile change blindness was observed, with participants failing to report the presence of tactile change. Critically, however, when participants had to make a forced choice response regarding the number of stimuli presented in the two displays, their performance was significantly better than chance (i.e., implicit change detection was observed). Experiment 3 demonstrated that tactile change detection does not necessarily involve a shift of spatial attention toward the location of change, regardless of whether the change is explicitly detected. We conclude that tactile change detection likely results from comparing representations of the two displays, rather than by directing spatial attention to the location of the change.