While engaged in a task, it’s easy for our flow to be disrupted by salient distractors. Yet, if you know the target, shielding yourself from the task-irrelevant distractors is easier. Tsai et al. (2023) recently systematically varied the salient distractor while keeping the target the same, and found that except for the distractor sharing the target dimension (intra-dimension), the cross-dimensional and cross-modal distractors did not engender any significant interference. Neurally, the intra-dimension distractor reduced the lateralized target-elicited posterior-contralateral N2 (N2pc), while the cross-dimensional and cross-modal distractor did not. Moreover, the cross-modal distractor elicited a significant early central contralateral negativity/positivity (CCN/CCP), suggesting that the somatosensory system registers the tactile distractor without engaging attention.
This study has been accepted for publication in the journal of Psychophysiology:
Tsai, S.-Y., Nasemann, J., Qiu, N., Töllner, T., Müller, H. J., & Shi, Z. (2023). Little engagement of attention by salient distractors defined in a different dimension or modality to the visual search target. Psychophysiology.