Selective attention in vibrotactile tasks: detecting the presence and absence of amplitude change

Percept Psychophys. 1991 Aug;50(2):157-65. doi: 10.3758/bf03212216.


Selective spatial attention has a greater effect on detection of the absence of an amplitude change than it has on detection of the presence of such a change. Attention to one of four fingertips was manipulated by an 80% valid tactile cue in two-interval forced-choice tasks. In one task, the target was a vibrotactile amplitude change appearing among constant-amplitude distractors; in the other task, targets of constant amplitude had to be detected amid amplitude changes at the other fingertips. Cuing had a greater effect on the latter task than it did on the former. This asymmetry is consistent with the presence-absence asymmetry found in visual search and does not depend on the difficulty of the two tasks. A statistical model shows that a pooled activity mechanism could account for these experimental results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Sensory Thresholds
  • Touch*
  • Vibration*