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Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research 2/2019

02-02-2019 | Original Article

The time course of distractor-based response activation with predictable and unpredictable target onset

Auteurs: Kerstin Jost, Mike Wendt, Aquiles Luna-Rodriguez, Andreas Löw, Thomas Jacobsen

Gepubliceerd in: Psychological Research | Uitgave 2/2019

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Abstract

Electrophysiological recording in a temporal flanker task (i.e., distractors preceding the targets) has demonstrated that distractor processing is adjusted to the overall utility of the distractors. Under high utility, that is, distractors are predictive of the target/response, distractors immediately activate the corresponding response (as indicated by the lateralized readiness potential, LRP). This activation has been shown to be markedly postponed when the target predictably occurs delayed. To investigate the occurrence and time course of distractor-related response activation under conditions of unpredictable target onset, we randomly varied the stimulus-onset asynchrony (SOA) between distractors and targets and recorded the distractor-evoked LRP. When the distractor utility was high, an LRP occurred shortly after distractor presentation. In case of a long SOA the time course of this LRP was characterized by a drop back to baseline and a subsequent re-activation that reached a substantial level before target onset. These results suggest that distractor processing is characterized by sophisticated adjustments to experienced utility and temporal constraints of the task as well as by further control processes that regulate premature response activation.
Voetnoten
1
The choice of a processing strategy may be conscious or deliberate. However, this is not necessarily the case, because the selection of a particular strategy may reflect the operation of some adjustment mechanism that is not under conscious control. It may be extremely difficult to determine whether conscious or unconscious mechanisms are involved in a particular case. This is because there is no generally accepted criterion for determining whether a process is conscious or unconscious or whether a process is deliberate or not. We make no attempt in this article to address this issue. Thus, the use of the terms choice and selection by the subject is not intended to imply any involvement of the subject’s consciousness or free will.
 
2
Note that using this interval restricted the analyses to time windows before target-related motor activation had an effect on the LRPs, that is (according to Jost et al., 2017 and a reanalysis of the present data) around 550 ms in the short-SOA condition. Onset of the analyzed time window was set to 350 ms, which corresponds both to the onset of the LRPs (i.e., when contralateral activation differed significantly from ipsilateral activation) as well as to the utility effects in the study by Jost et al. (2017).
 
3
Note that an analysis based on mean instead of median RTs revealed similar results.
 
4
Our data leave the possibility, however, that inhibition of distractor processing was applied right from the start to prevent response activation from reaching a high level in the first place.
 
5
Note that there is another caveat with measuring inhibition by means of LRPs. A below-zero LRP is not in itself a measure of inhibition. As a difference wave, the LRP indicates relative hand activation. Note that a reversal of the LRP below zero would also show up when the alternative hand becomes activated, for instance, because the alternative response is more likely (which, however, is not the case in the present context).
 
6
We thank an anonymous reviewer for this suggestion.
 
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Metagegevens
Titel
The time course of distractor-based response activation with predictable and unpredictable target onset
Auteurs
Kerstin Jost
Mike Wendt
Aquiles Luna-Rodriguez
Andreas Löw
Thomas Jacobsen
Publicatiedatum
02-02-2019
Uitgeverij
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Gepubliceerd in
Psychological Research / Uitgave 2/2019
Print ISSN: 0340-0727
Elektronisch ISSN: 1430-2772
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-019-01149-7

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