A Bayesian approach for estimating the probability of trigger failures in the stop-signal paradigm

Behav Res Methods. 2017 Feb;49(1):267-281. doi: 10.3758/s13428-015-0695-8.


Response inhibition is frequently investigated using the stop-signal paradigm, where participants perform a two-choice response time task that is occasionally interrupted by a stop signal instructing them to withhold their response. Stop-signal performance is formalized as a race between a go and a stop process. If the go process wins, the response is executed; if the stop process wins, the response is inhibited. Successful inhibition requires fast stop responses and a high probability of triggering the stop process. Existing methods allow for the estimation of the latency of the stop response, but are unable to identify deficiencies in triggering the stop process. We introduce a Bayesian model that addresses this limitation and enables researchers to simultaneously estimate the probability of trigger failures and the entire distribution of stopping latencies. We demonstrate that trigger failures are clearly present in two previous studies, and that ignoring them distorts estimates of stopping latencies. The parameter estimation routine is implemented in the BEESTS software (Matzke et al., Front. Quantitative Psych. Measurement, 4, 918; 2013a) and is available at http://dora.erbe-matzke.com/software.html .

Keywords: Bayesian hierarchical modeling; Ex-Gaussian distribution; Response inhibition; Stop-signal RT distribution; Stop-signal paradigm; Trigger failure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Choice Behavior / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Models, Statistical
  • Probability
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis