Effects of acoustic startle stimuli on interceptive action

Tresilian, J. R. and Plooy, A. M. (2006) Effects of acoustic startle stimuli on interceptive action. Neuroscience, 142 2: 579-594. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2006.06.029

Author Tresilian, J. R.
Plooy, A. M.
Title Effects of acoustic startle stimuli on interceptive action
Journal name Neuroscience   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0306-4522
Publication date 2006
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2006.06.029
Volume 142
Issue 2
Start page 579
End page 594
Total pages 16
Place of publication Oxford
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Subject C1
321403 Motor Control
780108 Behavioural and cognitive sciences
1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Abstract In reaction time (RT) tasks, presentation of a startling acoustic stimulus (SAS) together with a visual imperative stimulus can dramatically reduce RT while leaving response execution unchanged. It has been suggested that a prepared motor response program is triggered early by the SAS but is not otherwise affected. Movements aimed at intercepting moving targets are usually considered to be similarly governed by a prepared program. This program is triggered when visual stimulus information about the time to arrival of the moving target reaches a specific criterion. We investigated whether a SAS could also trigger such a movement. Human experimental participants were trained to hit moving targets with movements of a specific duration. This permitted an estimate of when movement would begin (expected onset time). Startling and sub-startle threshold acoustic probe stimuli were delivered unexpectedly among control trials: 65, 85, 115 and 135 ms prior to expected onset (10:1 ratio of control to probe trials). Results showed that startling probe stimuli at 85 and 115 ms produced early response onsets but not those at 65 or 135 ms. Sub-threshold stimuli at 115 and 135 ms also produced early onsets. Startle probes led to an increased vigor in the response, but sub-threshold probes had no detectable effects. These data can be explained by a simple model in which preparatory, response-related activation builds up in the circuits responsible for generating motor commands in anticipation of the GO command. If early triggering by the acoustic probes is the mechanism underlying the findings, then the data support the hypothesis that rapid interceptions are governed by a motor program. © 2006 Published by Elsevier Ltd on behalf of IBRO.
Keyword Human
Motor Control
Simple Reaction-time
Voluntary Movement
Visual Feedback
Moving Targets
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 08:41:24 EST