Preparation is a term that is used quite freely during private, informal discussions. As the argument becomes more formal and more public, "priming," "feed-forward" and similar jargon terms take its place, presumably because they are better defined, safer, and more acceptable. However, in spite of the caution that surrounds its use, it is clear that "preparation" denotes a useful concept. The purpose of the Franco- American Conference on Preparatory States and Processes was to try to clarify this concept by inviting investigators from different specialties in the behavioral and neural sciences to present and discuss illustrations of the use of the concept from their own work.
Even though the experimental paradigms that most explicitly address problems of preparation were most fully developed by cognitive psychologists the bulk of the work on preparatory processes comes from neurophysiological laboratories and the substantive focus is on motor behavior. The distribution of chapters in this volume reflects this skewness. Thus, the largest single group of chapters has a neurophysiological bent, the next largest group deals with various aspects of motor control, and the smallest group of chapters comes from a cognitive tradition. In spite of the wide range of substantive interests represented at the conference we believe that the central role that "preparation" plays in the work reported succeeded in giving the conference the unifying theme that was originally envisaged.
In general preparatory processes are viewed as facilitating performance; for example, reducing reaction time and increasing accuracy when performance is on a task for which preparation was made. Whether or not preparation for one task affects performance on an unprepared task is not an easily