A neural habituation account of the negative compatibility effect.

Published on May 20, 2021in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General
· DOI :10.1037/XGE0001055
Len P. L. Jacob1
Estimated H-index: 1
Kevin Potter3
Estimated H-index: 3
David E. Huber24
Estimated H-index: 24
The negative compatibility effect (NCE) is the finding of slower reaction times (RTs) to report the direction of a target arrow following a subliminal prime arrow pointed in the same direction. The NCE is commonly thought to reflect automatic response inhibition, and on this assumption, it has recently been used to assess various motor disorders. Here we propose a fundamentally different account of the NCE: one that relates the NCE to a broader class of paradigms that reveal behavioral deficits with repetition priming. We propose that the NCE is a "cognitive aftereffect," as explained with the neural habituation model of Huber and O'Reilly (2003). To identify the underlying perceptual dynamics by reducing the role of response preparation, we developed a novel variant of the NCE task with threshold accuracy rather than RT as the dependent measure. This revealed a transition from positive to negative priming as a function of prime duration, and a second experiment ruled out response priming. The perceptual dynamics of the neural habituation model were fit to these results and then fixed in applying the model to the NCE literature. Application of the model to RTs added a response layer that accumulates response information throughout the trial. With this addition, the model captured results found in the NCE literature that are inconsistent with a response inhibition account. Situations that produce a positive compatibility effect, rather than an NCE, were explained as response priming, whereas NCE effects were explained as a cognitive aftereffect, rooted in perceptual dynamics. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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