The theory of event coding, an influential framework for action planning, suggests that humans first integrate stimulus, response, and action effect into representation (an event file) via their contingencies, and then, the activation of expected action effects drives the associated response. While previous studies have typically examined such functions of action effects after, rather than before or during, the acquirement of the representation, Eitam et al. (Exp Brain Res 229:475–484, 2013a) demonstrated that the presence of immediate feedback to action (i.e., action effects) can instantly elicit faster responses than delayed feedback. However, the underlying mechanism of this faciliatory effect remains unclear. Specifically, while the response–effect relationship has been highlighted, the role of stimuli has not been investigated. To address this issue, the present study conducted four experiments. We first reproduced the faciliatory effects of immediate action effects with between- and within-participants design (Experiments 1 and 2, respectively). Then, we assessed whether immediate action effects facilitate response speed, when stimuli (Experiment 3) and a combination of stimuli and responses (Experiment 4) determined the delay of action effects. The identical response was executed faster when driven by stimuli associated with immediate effects than by those associated with lagged effects. This result indicates that immediate action effects do not reinforce the execution of specific motor actions itself, but facilitate actions depending on the stimulus–response relationship. We discuss the potential mechanism of the facilitation effect.
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