The purpose of the current study was to examine the processes involved in the preparation of timing during response initiation and execution through the use of a startling acoustic stimulus (SAS). In Experiment 1, participants performed a delayed response task in which a two key-press movement was to be initiated 200 ms after an imperative signal (IS) with either a short (200 ms) or long (500 ms) interval between key-presses. On selected trials, a SAS was presented to probe the preparation processes associated with the initiation delay and execution of the inter-key interval. The SAS resulted in a significant decrease in the initiation time, which was attributed to a speeding of pacemaker pulses used to time the delay interval, caused by an increased activation due to the SAS. Conversely, the SAS delayed the short inter-key interval, which was attributed to temporary interference with cortical processing. In Experiment 2, participants performed a 500-ms delayed response task involving two key-presses 200 ms apart. In this condition, the SAS resulted in significantly decreased initiation time and a delayed inter-key interval (p = .053). Collectively, these results support a different timeline for the preparation of the delay interval, which is thought to be prepared in advance of the IS, and the inter-key interval, which is thought to be prepared following the IS. This conclusion provides novel information with regard to timing preparation that is consistent with models in which response preparation, initiation, and execution are considered separate and dissociable processes.
Delayed response Response preparation Startle Time estimation Timing
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Acknowledgements for this study go to separate Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Grant awarded to Ian M. Franks (RGPIN—2014-05172) and Romeo Chua (RGPIN—2014-06051). We would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Laurence Chin for data collection and marking, as well as two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.
Alouche SR, Sant’Anna GN, Biagioni G, Ribeiro-do-Valle LE (2012) Influence of cueing on the preparation and execution of untrained and trained complex motor responses. Braz J Med Biol Res 45:425–435PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
Carlsen AN, Mackinnon CD (2010) Motor preparation is modulated by the resolution of the response timing information. Brain Res 1322:38–49CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Carlsen AN, Chua R, Inglis JT, Sanderson DJ, Franks IM (2004) Can prepared responses be stored subcortically? Exp Brain Res 159:301–309CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Carlsen AN, Maslovat D, Lam MY, Chua R, Franks IM (2011) Considerations for the use of a startling acoustic stimulus in studies of motor preparation in humans. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 35:366–376CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Carlsen AN, Maslovat D, Franks IM (2012) Preparation for voluntary movement in healthy and clinical populations: evidence from startle. Clin Neurophysiol 123:21–33CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Kumru H, Urra X, Compta Y, Castellote JM, Turbau J, Valls-Solé J (2006) Excitability of subcortical motor circuits in Go/noGo and forced choice reaction time tasks. Neurosci Lett 406:66–70CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Macar F, Vidal F (2004) Event-related potentials as indices of time processing: a review. J. Psychophysiol. 18:89–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Magnuson CE, Robin DA, Wright DL (2008) Motor programming when sequencing multiple elements of the same duration. J Motor Behav 40:532–544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Maslovat D, Carlsen AN, Chua R, Franks IM (2009) Response preparation changes during practice of an asynchronous bimanual movement. Exp Brain Res 195:383–392CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Maslovat D, Hodges NJ, Chua R, Franks IM (2011) Motor preparation and the effects of practice: evidence from startle. Behav Neurosci 125:226–240CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Maslovat D, Carlsen AN, Franks IM (2012) Subcortical motor circuit excitability during simple and choice reaction time. Behav Neurosci 126:499–503CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Maslovat D, Klapp ST, Jagacinski RJ, Franks IM (2014) Control of response timing occurs during the simple reaction time interval but on-line for choice reaction time. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 40:2005–2021CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
Maslovat D, Chua R, Carlsen AN, May C, Forgaard CJ, Franks IM (2015) A startling acoustic stimulus interferes with upcoming motor preparation: evidence for a startle refractory period. Acta Psychol (Amst) 158:36–42. doi:10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.04.003CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Penton-Voak IS, Edwards H, Percival A, Wearden JH (1996) Speeding up an internal clock in humans? Effects of click trains on subjective duration. J Exp Psychol Anim Behav Process 22:307–320CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar