Decreasing auditory simon effects across reaction time distributions

Aiping Xiong, Robert W. Proctor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The Simon effect for left-right visual stimuli previously has been shown to decrease across the reaction time (RT) distribution. This decrease has been attributed to automatic activation of the corresponding response, which then dissipates over time. In contrast, for left-right tone stimuli, the Simon effect has not been found to decrease across the RT distribution but instead tends to increase. It has been proposed that automatic activation occurs through visuomotor information transmission, whereas the auditory Simon effect reflects cognitive coding interference and not automatic activation. In 4 experiments, we examined distributions of the auditory Simon effect for RT, percentage error (PE), and an inverse efficiency score [IES = RT/(1-PE)] as a function of tone frequency and duration to determine whether the activation- dissipation account is also applicable to auditory stimuli. Consistent decreasing functions were found for the RT Simon effect distribution with short-duration tones of low frequency and for the PE and IES Simon effect distributions for all durations and frequency sets. Together, these findings provide robust evidence that left and right auditory stimuli also produce decreasing Simon effect distribution functions suggestive of automatic activation and dissipation of the corresponding response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-38
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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