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Simon effects in change detection and change blindness

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Responses to centrally presented target stimuli are faster when they are accompanied by a task-irrelevant lateral accessory stimulus that corresponds spatially with the response hand (accessory variant of the Simon effect). In four experiments, we tested whether this effect depends on the awareness of the accessory stimulus. In a change blindness task, participants were asked to respond to a central letter that was accompanied by a lateral background change on some trials. Change blindness describes the phenomenon that even large changes may remain unnoticed when they occur simultaneously with another visual disruption, e.g., a blank screen. In a series of four experiments, a significant Simon effect was observed both when the accessory stimulus reached awareness and when it remained unnoticed. These results indicate that, based on the spatial location of an accessory stimulus, a spatial code is generated. This code interferes with the response code on the response-selection stage.

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  1. 1.

    1 This criterion was not applied to Experiments 2–4 because it is possible to prepare a response to T2 before the display asking to report the change is presented. Unfortunately, the experimental code did not allow re-coding responses in Experiment 1.


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Correspondence to Andrea Schankin.

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Schankin, A., Hagemann, D. & Wascher, E. Simon effects in change detection and change blindness. Psychological Research 79, 1022–1033 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-014-0628-7

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  • Simon Effect
  • Simon Task
  • Spatial Code
  • Lateralized Readiness Potential
  • Change Blindness