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25-11-2016 | Original Article | Uitgave 2/2018 Open Access

Psychological Research 2/2018

Effects of reward and punishment on the interaction between going and stopping in a selective stop-change task

Psychological Research > Uitgave 2/2018
Frederick Verbruggen, Rosamund McLaren
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s00426-016-0827-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Inhibition of no-longer relevant go responses supports flexible and goal-directed behavior. The present study explored if the interaction between going and stopping is influenced by monetary incentives. Subjects (N = 108) performed a selective stop–change task, which required them to stop and change a go response if a valid signal occurred, but to execute the planned go response if invalid signals or no signals occurred. There were two incentive groups: the punishment group lost points for unsuccessful valid-signal trials, whereas the reward group gained points for successful valid-signal trials. There was also a control group that could not win or lose points on any trials. We found that, compared with the control group, incentives encouraged subjects to slow down on no-signal trials, suggesting proactive control adjustments. Furthermore, latencies of valid change responses were shorter in the incentive groups than in the control group, suggesting improvements in executing an alternative response. However, incentives did not modulate stop latency or the interaction between going and stopping on valid-signal trials much. Finally, Bayesian analyses indicated that there was no difference between the reward and punishment groups. These findings are inconsistent with the idea that reward and punishment have distinct effects on stop performance.

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