Response coding in the Simon task.

Research paper by Katrin K Wiegand, Edmund E Wascher

Indexed on: 30 Nov '05Published on: 30 Nov '05Published in: Psychological research


Recent findings indicate that two distinct mechanisms can contribute to a Simon effect: a visuomotor information transmission on the one hand and a cognitive code interference on the other hand (see for e.g., Wiegand & Wascher, in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 2005a). Furthermore, it was proposed that the occurrence of one or the other mechanism strongly depends on the way responses are coded. Visuomotor information transmission seems to depend on a correspondence between stimulus position and spatial anatomical status of the effector, whereas cognitive code interference is thought to be based on relative response location codes. To further test the spatial anatomic coding hypothesis, three experiments were conducted, in which the Simon effect with unimanual responses was investigated for horizontal (Experiment 1 and 2) and vertical (Experiment 3) stimulus-response (S-R) relations. Based on the finding of a decreasing effect function (indicating the presence of visuomotor information transmission) for horizontal and vertical S-R relations, it was concluded that visuomotor information transmission occurs whenever there is an overlap between the spatial stimulus feature and parameters of the motor representation of the response. Furthermore, the specific motor representation seems to be task dependent, that is, it entails those response parameters that clearly differentiate between the two response alternatives in a given task situation.