Strategic flexibility in response preparation: effects of cue validity on reaction time and pupil dilation

J.J. Adam*, T.J.H. Bovend'Eerdt, F.T.Y. Smulders, P.W.M. van Gerven

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study examined the ability of participants to strategically adapt their level of response preparation to the predictive value of preparatory cues. Participants performed the finger-precuing task under three levels of cue validity: 100, 75 and 50% valid. Response preparation was indexed by means of reaction time (RT) and pupil dilation, the latter providing a psychophysiological index of invested effort. Results showed a systematic increase in RT benefits (generated by valid cues) and RT costs (generated by invalid cues) with increments in the predictive value of cues. Converging with these behavioural effects, pupil dilation also increased systematically with greater cue validity during the cue-stimulus interval, suggesting more effortful response preparation with increases in cue validity. Together, these findings confirm the hypothesis that response preparation is flexible and that it can be strategically allocated in proportion to the relative frequency of valid/invalid preparatory cues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-177
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

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