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26-09-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 5/2019

Psychological Research 5/2019

Response–cue interval effects in extended-runs task switching: memory, or monitoring?

Psychological Research > Uitgave 5/2019
Erik M. Altmann


This study investigated effects of manipulating the response–cue interval (RCI) in the extended-runs task-switching procedure. In this procedure, a task cue is presented at the start of a run of trials and then withdrawn, such that the task has to be stored in memory to guide performance until the next task cue is presented. The effects of the RCI manipulation were not as predicted by an existing model of memory processes in task switching (Altmann and Gray, Psychol Rev 115:602–639, 2008), suggesting that either the model is incorrect or the RCI manipulation did not have the intended effect. The manipulation did produce a theoretically meaningful pattern, in the form of a main effect on response time that was not accompanied by a similar effect on the error rate. This pattern, which replicated across two experiments, is interpreted here in terms of a process that monitors for the next task cue, with a longer RCI acting as a stronger signal that a cue is about to appear. The results have implications for the human factors of dynamic task environments in which critical events occur unpredictably.

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