Does Having to Remember the Position of a Target Improve Reaction Time?

in Motor Control
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In the monkey, reaction time in a precued delayed response task was found to be faster when the animals had to remember the precue than when it was continually available (Smyrnis, Taira, Ashe, & Georgopoulos, 1992). We investigated whether this reflects a general principle that applies to all types of precued tasks. However, we found the opposite result in a simpler task in humans. Our findings suggest that the beneficial effect of a memory requirement on reaction time in the monkey may reflect an effect of task difficulty, rather than a fundamental process involved in all precued movement tasks.

The authors are with the Center for Neuroscience, University of Otago, New Zealand. Louise Parr-Brownlie and Brian Hyland are also with the Department of Physiology, Jeffrey Wickens is also with the Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology, and J. Greg Anson is also with the School of Physical Education. Direct correspondence to Brian Hyland, Department of Physiology, P.O. Box 913, Dunedin, New Zealand.