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© 2015, The Psychonomic Society, Inc. Numerous studies that have investigated visual selective attention have demonstrated that a salient but task-irrelevant stimulus can involuntarily capture a participant’s attention. Over the years, a lively debate has erupted concerning the impact of contingent top-down control settings on such stimulus-driven attentional capture. In the research reported here, we investigated whether top-down sets would also affect participants’ performance in a multisensory task setting. A nonspatial compatibility task was used, in which the target and the distractor were always presented sequentially from the same spatial location. We manipulated target–distractor similarity by varying the visual and tactile features of the stimuli. Participants always responded to the visual target features (color); the tactile features were incorporated into the participants’ top-down set only when the experimental context allowed for the tactile feature to be used in order to discriminate the target from the distractor. Larger compatibility effects after bimodal distractors were observed only when the participants were searching for a bimodal target and when tactile information was useful. Taken together, these results provide the first demonstration of nonspatial contingent crossmodal capture.

Original publication




Journal article


Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics

Publication Date





1970 - 1985