When vision influences the invisible distractor: tactile response compatibility effects require vision.
Wesslein AK., Spence C., Frings C.
Research on the nature of crossmodal interactions between vision and touch has shown that even task-irrelevant visual information can support the processing of tactile targets. In the present study, we implemented a tactile variant of the Eriksen flanker task to investigate the influences of vision on the processing of tactile distractors. In particular, we analyzed whether the size of the flanker effect at the level of perceptual congruency and at the level of response compatibility would differ as a function of the availability of vision (Experiments 1 and 2). Tactile distractors were processed up to the level of response selection only if visual information was provided (i.e., no flanker effects were observed at the level of response compatibility for blindfolded participants). In Experiment 3, we manipulated whether the part of the body receiving the tactile target or distractor was visible, while the other body part was occluded from view. Flanker effects at the level of response compatibility were observed in both conditions, meaning that vision of either the body part receiving the tactile target or the body part receiving the tactile distractor was sufficient to further the processing of tactile distractors from the level of perceptual congruency to the level of response selection. Taken together, these results suggest that vision modulates tactile distractor processing because it results in the processing of tactile distractors up to the level of response selection.