A Psychophysiological Investigation of the Continuous flow model of human information processing

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Cognitive Processes, Evoked Potentials, Physiological Correlates, Reaction Time

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12 male college students responded to target letters H or S by squeezing dynamometers with the left and right hand. Targets could be surrounded by compatible (e.g., HHHHH) or incompatible noise (SSHSS) letters. Measures of the P300 component of the event-related brain potential and of correct and incorrect electromyographic (EMG) and squeeze activity were used to study stimulus evaluation and response-related processes. When incorrect squeeze activity was present, execution of the correct response was prolonged, indicating a process of response competition. This process occurred more often under incompatible noise conditions, which were also associated with a delayed P300. Thus, the noise/compatability manipulation influenced both stimulus evaluation and response competition processes. In contrast, a warning tone that preceded array presentation on half the trials increased response speed without influencing evaluation time. Data suggest that the latency and accuracy of overt behavioral responses are a function of (a) a response activation process controlled by an evaluation process that accumulates evidence gradually, (b) a response priming process that is independent of stimulus evaluation, and (c) a response competition process.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, v. 11, issue 5, p. 529-553.