Identity and semantic negative priming in rapid serial visual presentation streams
In selective attention tasks, the efficiency of processing concurrently presented target and distractor stimuli in a given display is often influenced by the relationship these stimuli have with those in the previous display. When a to-be-attended target on a current trial (the probe trial) matches the ignored, non-target distractor on a previous trial (the prime trial), a response to the target is typically delayed compared with when the two stimuli are not associated. This negative priming (NP) phenomenon has been observed in numerous studies with traditional NP tasks presenting the target and distractor simultaneously in both the prime and probe trial couplets. Here, however, in four experiments using a mixture of stimulus types (letters, digits, English number words, and logographic Chinese number words), target and distractor stimuli were temporally separated in two rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) streams instead of concurrently presented. The findings provide a conceptual replication and substantial extension of a recent study by Wong (Plos One, 7, e37023, 2012), and suggest that active suppression of irrelevant distracting information is a more ubiquitous form of cognitive control than previously thought.