Assessing the automaticity of the exogenous orienting of tactile attention.
Santangelo V., Spence C.
We examined whether or not abrupt tactile onsets are capable of exogenously capturing tactile spatial attention when visual spatial attention is focused elsewhere. In experiment 1, we compared performance under dual-task conditions (where participants performed a tactile exogenous cuing task and a rapid serial visual presentation--RSVP--task at the same time) with their performance under single-task conditions (where the participants had to perform only the cuing task, although the RSVP stream was still presented in the background) and to a no-stream condition (where only the cuing task was presented). Tactile cuing was completely suppressed in both the dual-task and single-task conditions, showing that exogenous tactile spatial orienting is modulated by visual-spatial attention, which hence appears to be far from truly automatic. In experiment 2, we demonstrated that the abolishment of exogenous tactile orienting was not caused by the transient presentation of abrupt onset stimuli (letters). These results therefore show that exogenous spatial attentional orienting toward abrupt peripheral tactile stimuli is possible as long as perceptual resources are not depleted by a perceptually demanding (RSVP) task.