On the Temporal Relations Between Memory Scanning and Response Preparation

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Three experiments were conducted to investigate whether response processes can start before memory scanning has finished when both are required in the same task. In Experiment 1 the color of a stimulus letter determined which hand might respond, and the letter's memory set membership determined whether that response should be made or withheld. Electrophysiological data suggested that lateralized response preparation was not initiated until memory scanning finished. Experiment 2 replicated these results with a consistent stimulus–response mapping to make the scanning process easier. Experiment 3 tested for earlier response priming with a probe reaction time paradigm, and the results suggested that color information can be used to activate a response before memory scanning is finished. The results of Experiments 1–3 suggest that interference between memory scanning and response preparation precludes the concurrent operation of these processes.

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