Active Masks and Active Inhibition: A Comment on Lleras and Enns (2004) and on Verleger, Jaśkowski, Aydemir, van der Lubbe, and Groen (2004)

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Verleger, Jaśkowski, Aydemir, van der Lubbe, and Groen (2004) and Lleras and Enns (2004) have argued that negative compatibility effects (NCEs) obtained with masked primes do not reflect self-inhibition processes in motor control. Instead, NCEs are assumed to reflect activation of the response opposite to the prime, triggered by the presence of prime/targetlike features in the mask. Thus, no NCEs should be elicited when masks do not contain such task-relevant features. In Experiments 1 and 3, the authors demonstrate that NCEs can be obtained when masks contain only irrelevant features. Experiment 2 demonstrates that positive compatibility effects (PCEs) will occur with such masks when masked primes are presented peripherally. These results are inconsistent with the mask-induced activation accounts but are in line with the self-inhibition hypothesis of the NCE. Although perceptual interactions and mask-induced motor activations may contribute to NCEs under certain conditions, they cannot provide a full explanation for these effects.

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