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Jeff Moher, Joo-Hyun Song; Context-dependent sequential effects of target selection for action. Journal of Vision 2013;13(8):10. doi: 10.1167/13.8.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Humans exhibit variation in behavior from moment to moment even when performing a simple, repetitive task. Errors are typically followed by cautious responses, minimizing subsequent distractor interference. However, less is known about how variation in the execution of an ultimately correct response affects subsequent behavior. We asked participants to reach toward a uniquely colored target presented among distractors and created two categories to describe participants' responses in correct trials based on analyses of movement trajectories; partial errors referred to trials in which observers initially selected a nontarget for action before redirecting the movement and accurately pointing to the target, and direct movements referred to trials in which the target was directly selected for action. We found that latency to initiate a hand movement was shorter in trials following partial errors compared to trials following direct movements. Furthermore, when the target and distractor colors were repeated, movement time and reach movement curvature toward distractors were greater following partial errors compared to direct movements. Finally, when the colors were repeated, partial errors were more frequent than direct movements following partial-error trials, and direct movements were more frequent following direct-movement trials. The dependence of these latter effects on repeated-task context indicates the involvement of higher-level cognitive mechanisms in an integrated attention-action system in which execution of a partial-error or direct-movement response affects memory representations that bias performance in subsequent trials. Altogether, these results demonstrate that whether a nontarget is selected for action or not has a measurable impact on subsequent behavior.
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