The Role of RT Carry-Over for Congruence Sequence Effects in Masked Priming

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The present study disentangles 2 sources of the congruence sequence effect with masked primes: congruence and response time of the previous trial (reaction time [RT] carry-over). Using arrows as primes and targets and a metacontrast masking procedure we found congruence as well as congruence sequence effects. In addition, congruence sequence effects decreased when RT carry-over was accounted for in a mixed model analysis, suggesting that RT carry-over contributes to congruence sequence effects in masked priming. Crucially, effects of previous trial congruence were not cancelled out completely indicating that RT carry-over and previous trial congruence are 2 sources feeding into the congruence sequence effect. A secondary task requiring response speed judgments demonstrated general awareness of response speed (Experiments 1), but removing this secondary task (Experiment 2) showed that RT carry-over effects were also present in single-task conditions. During (dual-task) prime-awareness test parts of both experiments, however, RT carry-over failed to modulate congruence effects, suggesting that some task sets of the participants can prevent the effect. The basic RT carry-over effects are consistent with the conflict adaptation account, with the adaptation to the statistics of the environment (ASE) model, and possibly with the temporal learning explanation. Additionally considering the task-dependence of RT carry-over, the results are most compatible with the conflict adaptation account.

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