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Contextual Adjustments in Cognitive Control Across Tasks

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Does encountering information-processing conflict recruit general mechanisms of cognitive control or change only the representations of specific cues and responses? In the present experiments, a flanker task elicited responses to symbolic information (arrow meaning), whereas Stroop-like tasks elicited responses to nonsymbolic information (color of a letter or location of a target box). Despite these differences, when participants performed the flanker and Stroop tasks intermittently in randomized orders, the extent of information-processing conflict encountered on a particular trial modulated performance on the following trial. On across-task trial pairs, increases in response time to incongruent relative to congruent stimulus arrays were smaller immediately following incongruent trials than immediately following congruent trials. The degree of cognitive control exerted on a particular task thus appears to reflect not only the quality, but also the quantity, of recent experiences of information-processing conflict.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: State University of New York at Stony Brook

Publication date: 01 December 2007

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