The Response Activation Model and Cross-Modal Facilitation and Inhibition of Return: A Trajectory Analysis

Lawrence E.M. Grierson1, Timothy N. Welsh2, Steve Hansen3, Nicola J. Hodges4, Spencer Hayes3, James Lyons1, Digby Elliott1, 3, *
1 Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
2 Faculty of Kinesiology, Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
3 School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
4 School of Human Kinetics, University of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada

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© 2008 Grierson et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, England; Tel: 44 (0) 151 231 4353; Fax: 44 (0) 151 231 4037; E-mail:


Non-informative spatial cues presented prior to a goal-directed movement influence not only movement initiation time but also the spatial characteristics of the movement trajectories. These trajectory effects are thought to stem from an integration of competing motor responses. In the present experiments, trajectories of rapid aiming movements were examined under the constraints of a cue-target inhibition of return (IOR) paradigm. Aiming movements were made to targets that were preceded by a cue stimulus in the same or different location. Four experiments were conducted in which the modality of the cue and target stimulus was manipulated across vision and audition. Although facilitation effects were present under the cross modality protocols, IOR effects were observed only for same cue-target pairings. At short stimulus onset asynchronies, limb trajectories deviated toward the target that had just been cued, particularly when the cue occurred in left space. These trajectory effects are consistent with response activation models of selective attention and movement preparation.