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Percept Psychophys. 2002 Jan;64(1):148-62.

Motor activation with and without inhibition: evidence for a threshold mechanism in motor control.

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Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, England.


Masked primes presented prior to a target can trigger response activation processes that may later be subject to inhibition. Evidence for response inhibition has previously been obtained with primes presented at fixation, but not with primes presented in the periphery of the visual field. It is argued that this central-peripheral asymmetry reflects a threshold mechanism in motor control. Foveal masked primes give rise to stronger perceptual representations than do peripheral primes, resulting in stronger response activations. Strong response activations are actively inhibited, whereas weaker activations remain below a hypothetical inhibition threshold. Evidence in favor of this hypothesis is obtained in four experiments that manipulated the perceptual strength of foveal and peripheral primes. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrate that when the perceptual strength of peripheral primes is gradually increased by delaying mask onset, positive prime-target compatibility effects (reflecting the absence of response inhibition) turn into negative effects (indicating the presence of response inhibition). Experiments 3 and 4 demonstrate that when the perceptual strength of foveal primes is gradually decreased by degradation, negative compatibility effects turn into positive effects. The results are discussed in terms of a simple functional model of early motor control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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