Choice and stimulus-response compatibility affect duration of response selection

Paul Dassonville, Scott M. Lewis, Heather E. Foster, James Ashe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


In general, for movements to visual targets, response times increase with the number of possible response choices. However, this rule only seems to hold when an incompatibility exists between the stimulus and response, and is absent when stimulus and response are highly compatible (e.g., when reaching toward the location of the stimulus). Stimulus-response (S-R) compatibility can be manipulated either at the level of stimulus and response characteristics, or at the level of the mapping between elements of the stimulus and response sets. The current study was undertaken to determine the extent of the interaction between choice and each of these two levels of S-R compatibility. Subjects used a joystick to move a cursor in response to two, four or eight possible cues, with S-R compatibility manipulated along two dimensions (type of stimulus, and mapping between stimulus and response sets) in separate blocks of trials. Choice effects were absent when S-R relationships were highly compatible, moderate when incompatible in either of the two dimensions, and greatest when incompatible in both dimensions. These results indicate that choice affects response selection at each stage in the decoding of S-R relationships. Similar but smaller effects were seen for trials in which the stimulus was the same as that presented in the immediately preceding trial, suggesting that repeated stimulus-response transformations are faster and more efficient due to the priming effects of previous trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-240
Number of pages6
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1999

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant NS-32437, NIH National Research Resource Grant P41 RR08079, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the American Legion chair in Brain Sciences. We thank A.P. Georgopoulos for his helpful comments.


  • Choice
  • Mental rotation
  • Motor control
  • Spatial cue
  • Stimulus-response compatibility
  • Symbolic cue


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