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Temporal Order Judgment and simple Reaction Times: Evidence for a common processing system.

We present a simple reaction time (RT) vs. temporal order judgment (TOJ) experiment as a test of the perception-action relationship. The experiment improves on previous ones in that it assesses for the first time RT and TOJ on a trial-by-trial basis, hence allowing the study of the two behaviors within the same task context and, most importantly, the association of RT to correct and incorrect TOJ. RT to pairs of stimuli are significantly different depending on the associated TOJ, an indication that perceptual and motor decisions are based on the same internal response. Simulations with the simplest one-system model [Gibbon, J., & Rutschmann, R. (1969). Temporal order judgment and reaction time. Science, 165, 413-415] using the means and standard deviations of the RT to stimuli presented in isolation yield excellent fits of the mean RT to these increments when presented in sequence and, moderately good fits of the RT when classified according to the TOJ categories. The present observation that the point of subjective simultaneity for stimulus-pairs is systematically smaller than the difference in RT to each of the two increments in the same pairs pleads, however, in favor of distinct decision criteria for perception and action with the former below the latter. For such a case, standard one-system race models require that the internal noise associated with the TOJ be less than the one associated with the RT to the same stimulus pair. The present data show the reverse state of affairs. In short, data and simulations comply with "one-system-two decisions" models of perceptual and motor behaviors, while prompting further testing and modeling to account for the apparent discrepancy between the ordering of the two decisions.