Shifting attention between visual dimensions as a source of switch costs

Elchlepp, H., Best, M., Lavric, A. and Monsell, S. (2017) Shifting attention between visual dimensions as a source of switch costs. Psychological Science, 28(4), pp. 470-481. (doi: 10.1177/0956797616686855) (PMID:28207350)

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Task-switching experiments have documented a puzzling phenomenon: Advance warning of the switch reduces but does not eliminate the switch cost. Theoretical accounts have posited that the residual switch cost arises when one selects the relevant stimulus–response mapping, leaving earlier perceptual processes unaffected. We put this assumption to the test by seeking electrophysiological markers of encoding a perceptual dimension. Participants categorized a colored letter as a vowel or consonant or its color as “warm” or “cold.” Orthogonally to the color manipulation, some colors were eight times more frequent than others, and the letters were in upper- or lowercase. Color frequency modulated the electroencephalogram amplitude at around 150 ms when participants repeated the color-classification task. When participants switched from the letter task to the color task, this effect was significantly delayed. Thus, even when prepared for, a task switch delays or prolongs encoding of the relevant perceptual dimension.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council postdoctoral fellowship (Grant No. ES/J002720/1).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Best, Dr Maisy
Authors: Elchlepp, H., Best, M., Lavric, A., and Monsell, S.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Psychological Science
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1467-9280
Published Online:01 February 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Psychological Science 28(4): 470-481
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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