Mental processing during reactions toward and away from a stimulus: An ERP analysis of auditory congruence and S-R compatibility


  • We thank B. Renault. W. Ritter, and two anonymous referees for their comments and advice concerning this work.

Address reprint requests to: Richard Ragot, Unité de Psychophysiologic Cognitive, CNRS-URA 654-LENA, Hôpital de la Salpêtrière, 47 bd de l'Hôpital, 75651 Paris Cedex 13, France.


In its first usage, stimulus-response (S-R) compatibility defined strict S-R relationships. The later use of more complex two-dimensional stimuli led to the formulation of the Simon effect as a tendency to respond toward the side of stimulation. Ragot and Guiard (1992, European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 4, 219–232) observed an inversion of the Simon effect in the auditory modality. The present study was undertaken to present a more thorough observation of this seemingly paradoxical inversion through the use of brain event-related potentials (ERPs). Two experimental variables were manipulated: (a) stimulus congruence, expressing the degree of correspondence between two randomly varying conflictual or nonconflictual attributes of the stimulus (spoken word droite or gauche presented to the right or left ear), and (b) S-R compatibility as such, expressing the relationship between the relevant stimulus attribute (word) and the responding hand. Results show that the nature of the spoken word acts on N100 latency and is therefore the first stimulus attribute to be processed. Data on P300 indicate that S-R compatibility is the last variable to be taken into account. The observed results are integrated into a cascade/parallel model.