Cumulative distribution functions: An alternative approach to examine the triggering of prepared motor actions in the StartReact effect

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Aaron N McInnesW. Marinovic


There has been much debate concerning whether startling sensory stimuli can activate a fast-neural pathway for movement triggering (StartReact) which is different from that of voluntary movements. Activity in sternocleidomastoid (SCM) electromyogram is suggested to indicate activation of this pathway. We evaluated whether SCM activity can accurately identify trials which may differ in their neurophysiological triggering and assessed the use of cumulative distribution functions (CDFs) of reaction time (RT) data to identify trials with the shortest RTs for analysis. Using recent datasets from the StartReact literature, we examined the relationship between RT and SCM activity. We categorised data into short/longer RT bins using CDFs and used linear mixed effects models to compare potential conclusions that can be drawn when categorising data on the basis of RT versus on the basis of SCM activity. The capacity of SCM to predict RT is task-specific, making it an unreliable indicator of distinct neurophysiological mechanisms. Classification of trials using CDFs is capable of capturing potential task- or muscle- related differences in triggering whilst avoiding the pitfalls of the traditional SCM activity based classification method. ...Continue Reading

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