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Influence of auditory and audiovisual stimuli on the right–left prevalence effect

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When auditory stimuli are used in two-dimensional spatial compatibility tasks, where the stimulus and response configurations vary along the horizontal and vertical dimensions simultaneously, a right–left prevalence effect occurs in which horizontal compatibility dominates over vertical compatibility. The right–left prevalence effects obtained with auditory stimuli are typically larger than that obtained with visual stimuli even though less attention should be demanded from the horizontal dimension in auditory processing. In the present study, we examined whether auditory or visual dominance occurs when the two-dimensional stimuli are audiovisual, as well as whether there will be cross-modal facilitation of response selection for the horizontal and vertical dimensions. We also examined whether there is an additional benefit of adding a pitch dimension to the auditory stimulus to facilitate vertical coding through use of the spatial-musical association of response codes (SMARC) effect, where pitch is coded in terms of height in space. In Experiment 1, we found a larger right–left prevalence effect for unimodal auditory than visual stimuli. Neutral, non-pitch coded, audiovisual stimuli did not result in cross-modal facilitation, but did show evidence of visual dominance. The right–left prevalence effect was eliminated in the presence of SMARC audiovisual stimuli, but the effect influenced horizontal rather than vertical coding. Experiment 2 showed that the influence of the pitch dimension was not in terms of influencing response selection on a trial-to-trial basis, but in terms of altering the salience of the task environment. Taken together, these findings indicate that in the absence of salient vertical cues, auditory and audiovisual stimuli tend to be coded along the horizontal dimension and vision tends to dominate audition in this two-dimensional spatial stimulus–response task.

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Correspondence to Kim-Phuong L. Vu.

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Vu, K.L., Minakata, K. & Ngo, M.K. Influence of auditory and audiovisual stimuli on the right–left prevalence effect. Psychological Research 78, 400–410 (2014).

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  • Compatibility Effect
  • Visual Dominance
  • Audiovisual Stimulus
  • Visual Dominance Effect
  • Pitch Dimension