Reflexive activation of newly instructed stimulus–response rules: evidence from lateralized readiness potentials in no-go trials

  • Nachshon MeiranEmail author
  • Maayan Pereg
  • Yoav Kessler
  • Michael W. Cole
  • Todd S. Braver


Previous behavioral and electrophysiological evidence has suggested that the instructions for a new choice task are processed even when they are not currently required, indicating intention-based reflexivity. Yet these demonstrations were found in experiments in which participants were set to execute a response (go). In the present experiment, we asked whether intention-based reflexivity would also be observed under unfavorable conditions in which participants were set not to respond (no-go). In each miniblock of our paradigm, participants received instructions for a task in which two new stimuli were mapped to right/left keys. Immediately after the instructions, a no-go phase began, which was immediately followed by a go phase. We found a significant stimulus-locked lateralized readiness potential in the first no-go trial, indicating reflexive operation of the new instructions. These results show that representing instructions in working memory provides sufficient conditions for stimuli to launch task processing, proceeding all the way until motor response-specific brain activation, which takes place even under unfavorable, no-go conditions.


Instructions LRP Intention-based reflexivity Working memory Automaticity 


Author Note

This research was supported by a research grant from the USA–Israel Bi-national Science Foundation to the first and last authors. We thank Florian Waszak for a stimulating discussion that was instrumental in generating this line of research.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nachshon Meiran
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maayan Pereg
    • 1
  • Yoav Kessler
    • 1
  • Michael W. Cole
    • 2
  • Todd S. Braver
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Zlotowski Center for NeuroscienceBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael
  2. 2.Center for Molecular and Behavioral NeuroscienceRutgers UniversityRutgersUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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