Long-Term and Short-Term Action-Effect Links and Their Impact on Effect Monitoring

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People aim to produce effects in the environment, and according to ideomotor theory, actions are selected and executed via anticipations of their effects. Further, to ensure that an action has been successful and an effect has been realized, we must be able to monitor the consequences of our actions. However, action-effect links might vary between situations, some might apply for a majority of situations, while others might only apply to special occasions. With a combination of behavioral and electrophysiological markers, we show that monitoring of self-produced action effects interferes with other tasks, and that the length of effect monitoring is determined by both, long-term action-effect links that hold for most situations, and short-term action-effect links that emerge from a current setting. Effect monitoring is fast and frugal when these action-effect links allow for valid anticipation of action effects, but otherwise effect monitoring takes longer and delays a subsequent task. Specific influences of long-term and short-term links on the P1/N1 and P3a further allow to dissect the temporal dynamics of when these links interact for the purpose of effect monitoring.

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