The “proximity-to-hand” effect refers to the finding that distractors between the home position and the target cause more interference in a selective reaching movement than distractors farther from the home position. Based largely on the proximity-to-hand effect, Tipper, Lortie, and Baylis (1992) proposed that attention is distributed in an action-centered framework such that the interference caused by a specific stimulus depends on the action. The current experiments sought to determine if there is an attentional preference for stimuli closer to home or for stimuli that activate more efficiently executed actions regardless of the location. Results supported the latter hypothesis in that the greatest interference was observed when the distractor activated an action with a lower index of difficulty than the target, even though that distractor was farther from home than the target. These findings indicate that the action context mediates the influence that nontarget stimuli have on the processing of target responses.
The authors are with the Faculty of Kinesiology and Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4 Canada.