September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Is deciding to act or executing the action critical for the action effect?
Author Affiliations
  • Blaire Weidler
    University of Toronto
  • Richard Abrams
    Washington University in St. Louis
  • Jay Pratt
    University of Toronto
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 843. doi:
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      Blaire Weidler, Richard Abrams, Jay Pratt; Is deciding to act or executing the action critical for the action effect?. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):843.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Recent research has revealed that a simple action can affect subsequent visual search. More specifically, after making a keypress to an object, participants are faster to find an unrelated target in a visual search task if it happens to share a feature (e.g., the color) of the acted-on object (pattern referred to as the action effect). However, it remains an open question as to what specifically is driving this effect – is it the decision to make an action or the execution of the motor response? To disentangle these possibilities, on each trial participants in the present experiments decided if a feature of an object matched a previously seen word (e.g., BLUE or SQUARE): if it matched, they pressed a key, if it did not they viewed the object. Importantly, the color of the object changed (e.g., from blue to red) shortly after its onset. The timing of the change was such that participants planned the action (i.e., decided to act) while one feature value was present, but executed it after the object's feature changed. Thus, we could independently evaluate the contributions of the "decision" and "motor" components to the action effect: In the subsequent visual search task (participant searched for a tilted line on each trial) on some trials the "decision" color was present in the search display whereas on other trials the "motor" color was present. Orthogonal to that manipulation, sometimes that color validly predicted the orientation target's location whereas sometimes that color was present but contained a distractor (i.e., was invalid). The action effect was larger when the decision color appeared in the search task. Thus, these data indicate features of the object present when a decision to act is made bias subsequent search to a greater extent than features present at the time of the action.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018


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