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01-11-2009 | Original Article | Uitgave 6/2009

Psychological Research 6/2009

Precueing imminent conflict does not override sequence-dependent interference adaptation

Psychological Research > Uitgave 6/2009
Gamze Alpay, Monique Goerke, Birgit Stürmer


Interference effects are largely reduced after cognitive conflicts in previous trials. This sequence-dependent interference adaptation is often seen as a consequence of strategic executive control. We sought to investigate whether sequential modulations are comparable with cue-induced strategic adjustments in spatial interference tasks. If so, reliable cues indicating the next compatibility condition should override effects caused by prior events. To this end, cues were introduced in a spatial stimulus-response compatibility task and a Simon task that either indicated the upcoming trial compatibility (rule cues) or the target position, which was not related to the S-R rule (position cues). The proportion of valid cues was either completely or predominantly valid. In both tasks cueing benefits for absolutely reliable rule cues were clearly present. Remarkably, sequential modulations were not influenced by effective rule cueing and vice versa. Even absolutely reliable information about prospective control demands did not cancel out sequence-dependent interference adaptation. In addition, the contingent negative variation—an event-related brain potential in the cue-target interval that is related to response preparation and readiness—showed additive effects of preceding compatibility and cue reliability. The present results indicate that processes underlying sequence-dependent interference adaptation differ from cue-induced strategic processes of cognitive control.

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