Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

An Action Sequence Held in Memory Can Interfere with Response Selection of a Target Stimulus, but Does Not Interfere with Response Activation of Noise Stimuli

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

An Action Sequence Held in Memory Can Interfere with Response Selection of a Target Stimulus, but Does Not Interfere with Response Activation of Noise Stimuli

Article excerpt

Withholding an action plan in memory for later execution can delay execution of another action if the actions share a similar (compatible) action feature (e.g., response hand). We investigated whether this phenomenon, termed compatibility interference (CI), occurs for responses associated with a target as well as responses associated with distractors in a visual selection task. Participants planned and withheld a sequence of keypress responses (with their right or left hand), according to the identity of a stimulus (A), and then immediately executed a keypress response (with their right or left hand) to a second stimulus (B), according to the identity of a target letter appearing alone or among distractor letters. Distractor letters were either response compatible or incompatible with the target and appeared either simultaneously with the target (Experiments 1A and 2) or 100 msec before the target (Experiment 1B). Also, stimulus-response mapping was either 1:1 (Experiment 1) or 2:1 (Experiment 2). Results showed that the response to the Stimulus B target was delayed when it required the same response hand as Stimulus A, as opposed to a different hand. Also, the target reaction time for Stimulus B was greater when the target was flanked by incompatible distractors than when it was flanked by compatible distractors. Moreover, the degree of CI was consistent across the compatible-, incompatible-, and no-distractor conditions, indicating that CI generalizes to responses associated with a target, but not to those associated with distractors. Thus, CI occurs at a response selection, not at a response activation stage. Implications for the code occupation account for CI (e.g., Stoet & Hommel, 1999, 2002) and an alternative account for CI are discussed.

Everyday actions, such as turning on an appliance, starting your car, and programming your television remote, require the production of action plans. An action plan is a set of muscle commands that are structured before a movement sequence begins, allowing the entire sequence to be carried out (Keele, Cohen, & Ivry, 1990). According to Jeannerod (1997), action planning requires that the appropriate motor schemas be selected, related to the proper internal and external cues, and organized into the appropriate sequence. Sometimes we have to momentarily suspend the execution of one action plan in order to execute another action that takes precedence. For example, we may plan a sequence of responses required to turn on a car air conditioner, but before we execute this action, we may execute another action to retrieve our sunglasses, which are sliding, along with other items, across the dashboard. An interesting question to ask is whether our ability to carry out an immediate action (such as retrieving our sunglasses) is affected by the action plan (to turn on the air conditioner) currently being held in memory. Recent research suggests that execution of an action, at least in some cases, can be adversely affected by an action plan currently being held in memory.

Stoet and Hommel (1999) showed that withholding an action plan in memory for later execution can sometimes delay the execution of another action. In their study, two different visual stimuli were presented sequentially. Participants were instructed to plan and withhold a sequence of keypresses with either their right or left hand with regard to the identity of the first stimulus (Stimulus A). While participants were withholding the action plan to Stimulus A, a second visual stimulus appeared (Stimulus B). An immediate keypress response with either the right or left hand, with regard to the identity of Stimulus B, was required. After executing a speeded response to Stimulus B, participants executed the planned action to Stimulus A. Results showed that the response to Stimulus B was longer when it required the same (compatible) hand than when it required a different (not compatible) hand from that required by Stimulus A. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.