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A part of action preparation is deciding what the relevant task is. This task-decision process is conceptually separate from response selection. To show this, the authors manipulated task conflict in a spatial task-switching paradigm, using conflict stimuli that appeared during trials with univalent targets (affording 1 task). The conflict stimuli afforded task identity because they were used as task cues with bivalent targets (affording 2 tasks) that were intermixed with the univalent targets. Thus, for univalent targets, irrelevant stimuli either caused low task conflict or high task conflict. In three experiments, the authors found poorer performance in high task conflict trials than in low task conflict trials. Task conflict was introduced during target appearance (Experiment 1) or task preparation (Experiments 2 and 3). In the latter case, the task conflict effect decreased with increasing task preparation time showing that task preparation involves task decision.
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- Task conflict effect in task switching