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Temporal contiguity determines overshadowing and potentiation of human Action-Outcome performance

Alcalá, José A.; Kirkden, Richard D.; Bray, Jess; Prados, José; Urcelay, Gonzalo P.


José A. Alcalá

Richard D. Kirkden

Jess Bray

José Prados


Three experiments (n = 81, n = 81, n = 82, respectively) explored how temporal contiguity influences Action-Outcome learning, assessing whether an intervening signal competed, facilitated, or had no effect on performance and causal attribution in undergraduate participants. Across experiments, we observed competition and facilitation as a function of the temporal contiguity between Action and Outcome. When there was a strong temporal relationship between Action and Outcome, the signal competed with the action, hindering instrumental performance but not causal attribution (Experiments 1 and 3). However, with weak temporal contiguity, the same signal facilitated both instrumental performance and causal attribution (Experiments 1 and 2). Finally, the physical intensity of the signal determined the magnitude of competition. As anticipated by associative learning models, a more salient signal attenuated to a greater extent instrumental performance (Experiment 3). These results are discussed by reference to a recent adaptation of the configural theory of learning.


Alcalá, J. A., Kirkden, R. D., Bray, J., Prados, J., & Urcelay, G. P. (2022). Temporal contiguity determines overshadowing and potentiation of human Action-Outcome performance. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 17, 2022
Online Publication Date Aug 11, 2022
Publication Date Aug 11, 2022
Deposit Date Aug 12, 2022
Publicly Available Date Aug 15, 2022
Journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review
Print ISSN 1069-9384
Electronic ISSN 1531-5320
Publisher Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Cue competition · Overshadowing · Potentiation · Temporal contiguity · Action-outcome
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Additional Information The version of record of this article, first published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review is available online at Publisher’s website: