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Continuous visual information is important for movement initiation in a variety of motor tasks. However, even in the absence of visual information people are able to initiate their responses by using motion extrapolation processes. Initiation of actions based on these cognitive processes, however, can demand more attentional resources than that required in situations in which visual information is uninterrupted. In the experiment reported we sought to determine whether the absence of visual information would affect the latency to inhibit an anticipatory action.
The participants performed an anticipatory timing task where they were instructed to move in synchrony with the arrival of a moving object at a determined contact point. On 50% of the trials, a stop sign appeared on the screen and it served as a signal for the participants to halt their movements. They performed the anticipatory task under two different viewing conditions: Full-View (uninterrupted) and Occluded-View (occlusion of the last 500 ms prior to the arrival at the contact point).
The results indicated that the absence of visual information prolonged the latency to suppress the anticipatory movement.
We suggest that the absence of visual information requires additional cortical processing that creates competing demand for neural resources. Reduced neural resources potentially causes increased reaction time to the inhibitory input or increased time estimation variability, which in combination would account for prolonged latency.
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