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01-09-2014 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2014

Psychological Research 5/2014

A role for recency of response conflict in producing the bivalency effect

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 5/2014
Auteurs:
John G. Grundy, Judith M. Shedden

Abstract

The bivalency effect is a block-wise response slowing that is observed during task-switching when rare stimuli that cue two tasks (bivalent stimuli) are encountered. This adjustment in response style affects all trials that follow bivalent stimuli, including those trials that do not share any features with bivalent stimuli. However, the specific stimulus and response properties that trigger the bivalency effect are not well understood. In typical bivalency effect experiments, bivalent stimuli can be congruent or incongruent with respect to the response afforded by the irrelevant stimulus feature, and this distinction has never been examined. In the present study, we show that cognitive load defined by the response incongruence on bivalent trials plays a critical role in producing the subsequent response slowing observed in the bivalency effect, as well as maintaining the magnitude of the bivalency effect across practice. We propose that the bivalency effect reflects a process involved in predicting future cognitive load based on recent cognitive load experience. This is in line with a recent proposal for a role of the ACC in monitoring ongoing changes in the environment to optimize future performance (Sheth et al., in Nature 488:218–221, 2012).

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