Precues enable multiple response preprogramming: Evidence from startle

  • Carlsen A
  • Chua R
  • Summers J
 et al. 
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When one or more response dimensions in a choice reaction time (RT) task are provided beforehand (or precued), RT decreases, indicating that the precued part of a response was prepared in advance. In this study, a startling acoustic stimulus was used to investigate the amount of preprogramming that occurs when part of the response is precued because a startling stimulus has been shown to directly trigger preprogrammed responses. Participants performed wrist flexion/extension movements in a precued one to four choice RT paradigm. A control auditory stimulus (82 dB) or a startling acoustic stimulus (124 dB) accompanied the visual "go" signal on each trial. Although RT latencies were significantly reduced by the startle, many more errors were observed in the startled conditions. Importantly, the errors seen at short RT latencies largely reflected multiple movements to the cued response alternatives, suggesting that multiple responses were preprogrammed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Electromyography
  • Information processing
  • Motor control
  • Reaction time
  • Startle

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  • Anthony CarlsenUniversity of Ottawa

  • Romeo Chua

  • Jeffrey J. Summers

  • J. Timothy Inglis

  • David J. Sanderson

  • Ian M. Franks

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