Predictability influences stopping and response control

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2007 Feb;33(1):149-62. doi: 10.1037/0096-1523.33.1.149.


Using a continuous tracking task, the authors examined whether stopping is resistant to expectancies as well as whether it is a representative measure of response control. Participants controlled the speed of a moving marker by continuously adjusting their response force. Participants stopped their ongoing tracking in response to auditory signals on 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of trials. Stopping was contrasted with accelerating, in which participants accelerated the marker in response to the signals. In Experiment 1, on each trial participants either stopped or accelerated, allowing a trade-off between the two. In Experiments 2 and 3, participants only stopped or only accelerated, thus decreasing the likelihood of a trade-off. When a trade-off was possible, stopping was resistant to expectancies. However, with little or no trade-off, expectancies influenced stopping and accelerating similarly. These findings contrast with the established view that stopping is insensitive to expectancies. In addition, when trade-offs are prevented, these results confirm that stopping is representative of other response adjustment measures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Color Perception
  • Concept Formation
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Motion Perception*
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Set, Psychology*