Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 224, Issue 4, pp 647–655 | Cite as

Dissecting the response in response–effect compatibility

  • Roland Pfister
  • Wilfried Kunde
Research Article


Voluntary actions are guided by sensory anticipations of body-related as well as environment-related action effects. Even though action effects in the environment typically resemble the action goal proper, anticipations of body-related effects can cause interference if they do not correspond to intended environment-related effects. The present study explored which specific response features cause such interference: the spatial location of the moving limb or its anatomical connection to the body causes such interference? Using a response–effect compatibility design with normal and crossed hand-key mappings, we show that environment-related effects are predominantly related to spatial rather than anatomical response features, ensuring that goal-directed behavior is flexible and efficient at the same time. Furthermore, results indicate that this mechanism applies to both, free- and forced-choice actions.


Action control Effect anticipations Spatial versus anatomical codes Ideomotor theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology IIIJulius-Maximilians University of WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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