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The quick and the dead: when reaction beats intention

Welchman, A. E. and Stanley, J. and Schomers, M. R. and Miall, R. Chris and Bulthoff, H. H. (2010) The quick and the dead: when reaction beats intention. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 277 (1688). p. 1667. ISSN 0962-8452

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URL of Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2009.2123

Identification Number/DOI: doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.2123

Everyday behaviour involves a trade-off between planned actions and reaction to environmental events.Evidence from neurophysiology, neurology and functional brain imaging suggests different neural bases for the control of different movement types. Here we develop a behavioural paradigm to test movement dynamics for intentional versus reaction movements and provide evidence for a ‘reactive advantage’ in movement execution, whereby the same action is executed faster in reaction to an opponent. We placed pairs of participants in competition with each other to make a series of button presses. Within subject analysis of movement times revealed a 10 per cent benefit for reactive actions. This was maintained when opponents performed dissimilar actions, and when participants competed against a computer, suggesting that the effect is not related to facilitation produced by action observation. Rather, faster ballistic movements may be a general property of reactive motor control, potentially providing a useful means of promoting survival.

Type of Work:Article
Date:2010 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
Department:School of Psychology
Subjects:BF Psychology
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Royal Society
ID Code:407
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