Reflective and reflexive action control in patients with frontal brain lesions

Angelika Lengfelder, Peter M. Gollwitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two types of action control derived from the model of action phases (H. Heckhausen & P. M. Gollwitzer, 1987) were analyzed in patients with frontal lesions, patients with nonfrontal lesions, and university students. In Study 1, reflective action control in terms of goal selection was assessed, and impaired deliberation was found in patients with frontal lesions. Study 2 assessed reflexive action control in terms of automatic action initiation as a result of forming implementation intentions (P. M. Gollwitzer, 1999). All participants sped up their responses to critical stimuli by forming implementation intentions. Moreover, lesion patients with weak performances on the Tower of Hanoi (TOH) task did worse than patients with strong TOH performances in Study 1 but better than control participants in Study 2. Findings are interpreted as a functional dissociation between conscious reflective action control and automatic reflexive action control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-100
Number of pages21
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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