Multiple bottlenecks in hierarchical control of action sequences: What does “response selection” select in skilled typewriting?

Motonori Yamaguchi, Gordon D. Logan, Vanessa Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Does response selection select words or letters in skilled typewriting? Typing performance involves hierarchically organized control processes: an outer loop that controls word level processing, and an inner loop that controls letter (or keystroke) level processing. The present study addressed whether response selection occurs in the outer loop or the inner loop by using the psychological refractory period (PRP) paradigm in which Task1 required typing single words and Task2 required vocal responses to tones. The number of letters (string length) in the words was manipulated to discriminate selection of words from selection of keystrokes. In Experiment 1, the PRP effect depended on string length of words in Task1, suggesting that response selection occurs in the inner loop. To assess contributions of the outer loop, the influence of string length was examined in a lexical-decision task that also involves word encoding and lexical access (Experiment 2), or to-be-typed words were preexposed so outer-loop processing could finish before typing started (Experiment 3). Response time for Task2 (RT2) did not depend on string length with lexical decision, and RT2 still depended on string length with typing preexposed strings. These results support the inner-loop locus of the PRP effect. In Experiment 4, typing was performed as Task2, and the effect of string length on typing RT interacted with stimulus onset asynchrony superadditively, implying that another bottleneck also exists in the outer loop. We conclude that there are at least two bottleneck processes in skilled typewriting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1059-1084
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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