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Keywords:

  • Orienting;
  • Habituation;
  • Stimulus change;
  • Probe reaction time;
  • Skin conductance

Abstract

Two experiments studied the effects of intermodality change on electrodermal responses and on reaction time to a secondary task probe stimulus after 24 habituation training trials with either a tone or a vibrotactile stimulus. The probe was a visual stimulus of 500 ms duration, and within-stimulus probes occurred 300 ms following stimulus onset. Experiment 1 crossed change versus no change with modality of the training stimulus. Skin conductance responses (SCRs) were larger in the experimental group than in the control on the test trial, and in the experimental group, test trial responses were larger than those on the first training trial. Probe reaction time was slower on the test trial in the experimental group than in the control, and within-stimulus probe reaction time was slower than interstimulus interval reaction time early in the habituation series. Experiment 2 crossed change versus no change with the presence of a secondary task. Test trial SCRs were larger in the experimental group than in the control, regardless of whether or not the secondary task was present. In addition, test trial responses in the experimental group were larger than those on the first training trial in both the task and no-task conditions. Within the task condition, reaction time was slower in the experimental condition than in the control on the test trial. In addition, reaction time in the experimental condition was slower during the change trial than during the first training stimulus. The data provide difficulties for noncomparator theories of habituation and seem to be most easily explained by theories of habituation that emphasize the importance of an extrapolatory process.