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Reaction times can reflect habits rather than computations

  1. Aaron L Wong  Is a corresponding author
  2. Jeff Goldsmith
  3. Alexander D Forrence
  4. Adrian M Haith
  5. John W Krakauer
  1. Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, United States
  2. Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 8
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Cite this article as: eLife 2017;6:e28075 doi: 10.7554/eLife.28075

Abstract

Reaction times (RTs) are assumed to reflect the underlying computations required for making decisions and preparing actions. However, recent work has shown that movements can be initiated earlier than typically expressed without affecting performance; hence, the RT may be modulated by factors other than computation time. Consistent with that view, we demonstrated that RTs are influenced by prior experience: when a previously performed task required a specific RT to support task success, this biased the RTs in future tasks. This effect is similar to the use-dependent biases observed for other movement parameters such as speed or direction. Moreover, kinematic analyses revealed that these RT biases could occur without changing the underlying computations required to perform the action. Thus the RT is not solely determined by computational requirements but is an independent parameter that can be habitually set by prior experience.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Aaron L Wong

    Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, United States
    For correspondence
    aaron.wong@jhu.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0001-7211-0653
  2. Jeff Goldsmith

    Department of Biostatistics, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Alexander D Forrence

    Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9728-6337
  4. Adrian M Haith

    Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-5658-8654
  5. John W Krakauer

    Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

National Science Foundation (BCS-1358756)

  • Adrian M Haith
  • John W Krakauer

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (R01-NS097423)

  • Jeff Goldsmith

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01-HL123407)

  • Jeff Goldsmith

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: All participants provided written informed consent and were naive to the purposes of the study. Experimental methods were approved by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine institutional review board.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Jennifer L Raymond, Stanford School of Medicine, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: April 27, 2017
  2. Accepted: July 24, 2017
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 28, 2017 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: September 4, 2017 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2017, Wong et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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