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31-05-2017 | Original Article

Preparation of timing structure involves two independent sub-processes

Psychological Research
Dana Maslovat, Romeo Chua, Stuart T. Klapp, Ian M. Franks


The current study examined the processes involved in the preparation of sequencing and timing initiation for multi-component responses. In two experiments, participants performed a reaction time (RT) task involving a three key-press sequence with either a simple (isochronous) or complex (non-isochronous) timing structure. Conditions involved a precue that provided information about all features of the movement (simple RT), no features of the movement (choice RT), sequencing only, or timing structure only. When sequencing was precued, RT decreased significantly as compared to choice RT, indicative of advance preparation of sequencing. When timing was precued, RT decreased significantly compared to choice RT when the timing structure was simple, suggesting that some aspect of timing preparation can occur prior to the go stimulus. However, even when the timing structure was known in advance, RT was still affected by timing complexity, confirming that some aspect of timing preparation cannot occur until after the onset of the stimulus and thus occurs during the RT interval. To explain these findings, we propose a two-component model of preparation for the timing initiation structure in which timing selection occurs in advance but timing implementation must occur following the go signal. These results support and extend previous findings regarding the independence of the processes associated with response sequencing and timing initiation.

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