Influence of visual stimulus mode on transfer of acquired spatial associations.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Vol 35(2), Mar 2009, 434-445.
Proctor, Robert W.; Yamaguchi, Motonori; Zhang, Yanmin; Vu, Kim-Phuong L.
Associations between corresponding stimulus–response locations are often characterized as overlearned, producing automatic activation. However, 84 practice trials with an incompatible mapping eliminate the benefit for spatial correspondence in a transfer Simon task, where stimulus location is irrelevant. The authors examined whether transfer occurs for combinations of physical-location, arrow-direction, and location-word modes in the practice and transfer sessions. With 84 practice trials, the Simon effect was reduced for locations and arrows, and there was complete transfer across these modes; location words showed little transfer within or between modes. These results suggest that the acquired short-term associations were based on visual-spatial stimulus codes distinct from semantic-spatial codes activated by the words. With 600 practice trials, words showed transfer to word and arrow but not location Simon tasks, suggesting that arrows share semantic-spatial codes with words. Reaction-time distribution functions for the Simon effect showed distinct shapes for each stimulus mode, with little impact of the practiced mapping on the shapes. Thus, the contribution of the short-term location associations seems to be separate from that of the long-term associations responsible for the Simon effect.