Alternative cue and response modalities maintain the Simon effect but impact task performance
January 7, 2022
Inhibitory control, the ability to inhibit impulsive responses and irrelevant stimuli, enables high level functioning and activities of daily living. The Simon task probes inhibition using interfering stimuli, i.e., cues spatially presented on the opposite side of the indicated response; incongruent response times (RT) are slower than congruent RTs. Operational applicability of the Simon task beyond finger/hand manipulations and visual/auditory cues is unclear, but important to consider as new technologies provide tactile cues and require motor responses from the lower extremity (e.g., exoskeletons). In this study, twenty participants completed the Simon task under four conditions, each combination of two cue (visual/tactile) and response (upper/lower-extremity) modalities. RT were significantly longer for incongruent than congruent cues across cue-response pairs. However, alternative cue-response pairs yielded slower RT and decreased accuracy for tactile cues and lower extremity responses. Results support operational usage of the Simon task to probe inhibition using tactile cues and lower-extremity responses relevant for new technologies like exoskeletons and immersive environments.