Speed of reaction to sensory stimulation is enhanced during movement.
Juravle G., Spence C.
We report four experiments on the speed of people's reactions to sensory stimulation while throwing and catching a basketball. Thirty participants participated in Experiment 1, split according to basketball expertise: none, intermediate (6years on average), or advanced (20years or more). The participants had to catch a bouncing basketball. The movement triggered a short tactile pulse in a tactor attached to their wrist to which they made a speeded vocal response (RT). The pulse could be presented either at rest, at two time-points during the reaching movement, or when the hand reached forward to catch the ball. The results indicated that participants responded more rapidly to vibrations on the moving hand relative to preparing or catching the ball, with expert athletes responding significantly faster than novices. In a second experiment, participants made a speeded vocal response to an auditory signal. As in Experiment 1, faster auditory RTs were observed when the hand was moving, as compared to the other time-points. In a third study, the participants responded to a pulse delivered at their resting hand at various time-points corresponding to the average timings of stimulation in Experiment 1. The results revealed comparable RTs across the tested time-points. In a final experiment, the participants made a vocal response to a pulse presented at various time-points while they were throwing the basketball. The results indicated faster tactile RTs while the ball was being thrown. These results are discussed with reference to the literature on goal-directed movements and in terms of current theories of attention and sensory suppression.