Past research has found that the speed of the action cancellation process is influenced by the sensory modality of the environmental change that triggers it. However, the effect on selective stopping processes (where participants must cancel only one component of a multicomponent movement) remains unknown, despite these complex movements often being required as we navigate our busy modern world. Thirty healthy adults (mean age = 31.1 years, SD = 10.5) completed five response-selective stop signal tasks featuring different combinations of “go signal” modality (the environmental change baring an imperative to initiate movement; auditory or visual) and “stop signal” modality (the environmental change indicating that action cancellation is required: auditory, visual, or audiovisual). EMG recordings of effector muscles allowed detailed comparison of the characteristics of voluntary action and cancellation between tasks. Behavioral and physiological measures of stopping speed demonstrated that the modality of the go signal influenced how quickly participants cancelled movement in response to the stop signal: Stopping was faster in two cross-modal experimental conditions (auditory go – visual stop; visual go – auditory stop), than in two conditions using the same modality for both signals. A separate condition testing for multisensory facilitation revealed that stopping was fastest when the stop signal consisted of a combined audiovisual stimulus, compared with all other go–stop stimulus combinations. These findings provide novel evidence regarding the role of attentional networks in action cancellation and suggest modality-specific cognitive resources influence the latency of the stopping process.

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