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Abstract

According to ideomotor theory, action-effect associations are crucial for voluntary action control. Recently, a number of studies started to investigate the conditions that mediate the acquisition and application of action-effect associations by comparing actions carried out in response to exogenous stimuli (stimulus-based) with actions selected endogenously (intention-based). There is evidence that the acquisition and/or application of action-effect associations is boosted when acting in an intention-based action mode. For instance, bidirectional action-effect associations were diagnosed in a forced choice test phase if participants previously experienced action-effect couplings in an intention-based but not in a stimulus-based action mode. The present study aims at investigating effects of the action mode on action-effect associations in more detail. In a series of experiments, we compared the strength and durability of short-term action-effect associations (binding) immediately following intention- as well as stimulus-based actions. Moreover, long-term action-effect associations (learning) were assessed in a subsequent test phase. Our results show short-term action-effect associations of equal strength and durability for both action modes. However, replicating previous results, long-term associations were observed only following intention-based actions. These findings indicate that the effect of the action mode on long-term associations cannot merely be a result of accumulated short-term action-effect bindings. Instead, only those episodic bindings are selectively perpetuated or retrieved that integrate action-relevant aspects of the processing event, i.e., in case of intention-based actions, the link between action and ensuing effect.

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