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Target- and effect-directed actions towards temporal goals: Similar mechanisms?

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Walter,  Andrea
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Rieger,  Martina
Department Psychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Institute for Psychology, University for Health Sciences, Medical Informatics and Technology, Hall in Tirol, Austria;

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Citation

Walter, A., & Rieger, M. (2012). Target- and effect-directed actions towards temporal goals: Similar mechanisms? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 38(4), 958-974. doi:10.1037/a0026792.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-300C-1
Abstract
The goal of an action can consist of generating a change in the environment (to produce an effect) or changing one's own situation in the environment (to move to a physical target). To investigate whether the mechanisms of effect-directed and target-directed action control are similar, participants performed continuous reversal movements. They either synchronized movement reversals with regularly presented tones (temporal targets) or produced tones at reversals isochronously (temporal effects). In both goal conditions an irrelevant goal characteristic was integrated into the goal representation (loudness, Experiment 1). When targets and effects were presented within the same reversal movement, similarities were enhanced (Experiment 2). When the task posed spatial demands in addition to temporal demands, target- and effect-directed movement kinematics changed equally with tempo (Experiment 3). Correlations between target-directed and effect-directed movements in temporal variability indicated similar timing mechanisms (Experiments 1 and 2). Only gradual differences between target- and effect-directed movements were observed. We conclude that the same mechanisms of action control, including the anticipation of upcoming events, underlie effect-directed and target-directed movements. Ideomotor theories of action control should incorporate action targets as goals similar to action effects.