Effects of probability bias in response readiness and response inhibition on reaching movements

Paolo Federico, Giovanni Mirabella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is solidly established that unequal stimulus frequencies lead to faster responses to the more likely stimulus; however, the effect of this probability bias on response inhibition is still debated. To tackle this issue, we administered two versions of the stop-signal task to 18 right-handed healthy subjects. In one version, we manipulated the frequency of right and left targets appearance when subjects were required to produce speeded responses (no-stop trials) with the right arm, whereas stop signals occurred with equal frequencies after right or left targets (no-stop signal bias). In the other version, we manipulated the frequency of appearance of stop signals after right or left targets, whereas no-stop trials toward right or left targets had the same frequency (stop-signal bias). Surprisingly, we found a very modest, if any, increase in response readiness toward the more frequent stimulus. However, the no-stop signal bias had an effect on the speed of inhibitory control, as subjects were always faster to suppress a movement toward the side where targets were less likely to occur. Differently, the stop-signal bias had a much more powerful effect. In fact, subjects were faster to withhold movements toward the side where targets were more frequent, while they exhibited longer reaction times for reaches toward the more likely targets. Overall, these results suggest that action preparation and action inhibition are independent competing processes, but subjects tend to place automatically greater importance on the stop task.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1293-1307
Number of pages15
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Countermanding task
  • Proactive control
  • Probability bias
  • Reaching movements
  • Volitional inhibition
  • Voluntary movements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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