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Late backward effects in the refractory period paradigm: effects of Task 2 execution on Task 1 performance

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Abstract

The central bottleneck model assumes that in the psychological refractory paradigm, Task 1 performance is independent of Task 2 demands. Previous studies, however, have reported backward crosstalk effects of motor demands in Task 2 on Task 1 performance. These effects have been attributed to interference at the central level. The present study aimed to isolate more directly potential backward effects at the motor level. Therefore, in three experiments, movement distance in Task 2 was manipulated using a guided ballistic movement. The results showed that movement distance in Task 2 affected reaction time as well as response duration in Task 1. It is argued that the backward effect observed in this study is due to response coupling at motor rather than central levels.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In all experiments, the backward crosstalk effect was robust because it did not disappear when trials with grouped responses were discarded, i.e., trials with IRIs less than or equal to 100 ms. Furthermore, the effect did not change (p < 0.05) applying different IRI thresholds (i.e., IRI < 50 ms, IRI < 100 ms and IRI < 200 ms). Thus, we reject response grouping as possible explanation for the backward crosstalk effect observed in this study.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Thilo Rommel for his assistance in data collection and Anja Fiedler, Daniel Bratzke, Hannes Schröter, Tanja Leonhard, especially Eric Ruthruff, and an anonymous reviewer for helpful comments. This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (UL 116/11-1).

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Correspondence to Susana Ruiz Fernández.

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Ruiz Fernández, S., Ulrich, R. Late backward effects in the refractory period paradigm: effects of Task 2 execution on Task 1 performance. Psychological Research 74, 378–387 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-009-0260-0

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Keywords

  • Stimulus Onset Asynchrony
  • Response Force
  • Movement Distance
  • Psychological Refractory Period
  • Ballistic Movement