Reaching Into Response Selection: Stimulus and Response Similarity Influence Central Operations

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To behave adaptively in complex and dynamic environments, one must link perception and action to satisfy internal states, a process known as response selection (RS). A largely unexplored topic in the study of RS is how interstimulus and interresponse similarity affect performance. To examine this issue, we manipulated stimulus similarity by using colors that were either similar or dissimilar and manipulated response similarity by having participants move a mouse cursor to locations that were either close together or far apart. Stimulus and response similarity produced an interaction such that the mouse trajectory showed the greatest curvature when both were similar, a result obtained under task conditions emphasizing speed and conditions emphasizing accuracy. These findings are inconsistent with symbolic look-up accounts of RS but are consistent with central codes incorporating metrical properties of both stimuli and responses.

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