When irrelevant information helps: Extending the Eriksen-flanker task into a multisensory world.
Merz S., Frings C., Spence C.
Charles W. Eriksen dedicated much of his research career to the field of cognitive psychology, investigating human information processing in those situations that required selection between competing stimuli. Together with his wife Barbara, he introduced the flanker task, which became one of the standard experimental tasks used by researchers to investigate the mechanisms underpinning selection. Although Eriksen himself was primarily interested in investigating visual selection, the flanker task was eventually adapted by other researchers to investigate human information processing and selection in a variety of nonvisual and multisensory situations. Here, we discuss the core aspects of the flanker task and interpret the evidence of the flanker task when used in crossmodal and multisensory settings. "Selection" has been a core topic of psychology for nearly 120 years. Nowadays, though, it is clear that we need to look at selection from a multisensory perspective-the flanker task, at least in its crossmodal and multisensory variants, is an important tool with which to investigate selection, attention, and multisensory information processing.