Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2021-11-12, 15:42 authored by Moon Sun KangMoon Sun Kang
While cognitive control enables the selection of goal-relevant responses, metacontrol enables the selection of context-appropriate control operations. In task switching, metacontrol modulates task-switching efficiency by retrieving the associations between a contextual cue and a particular cognitive control demand. While the automatic retrieval of cognitive control is appealing due to its time and energy efficiency, the effects of different contextual cues have been shown in separate studies and appear to have different characteristics. Here, we devised a single task-switching paradigm to test whether we can observe both list-wide and item-specific metacontrol within subjects. In two experiments, we demonstrated reduced switch costs in lists associated with a high probability of switching as compared with lists with a low probability of switching (i.e., a list-wide switch probability [LWSP] effect). Similarly, we observed an analogous item-specific switch probability (ISSP) effect such that items associated with a high probability of switching incurred smaller switch costs as compared with items associated with a low probability of switching. We also confirmed that both list-wide and item-specific switch probability effects were not dependent on lower-level stimulus-response associations. However, the LWSP and the ISSP effects were uncorrelated, suggesting a lack of dependence. Together, these findings suggest that there are two distinct modes of metacontrol that are deployed in a context-sensitive manner in order to adapt to specific cognitive demands.


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Psychological Sciences

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Yu-Chin Chiu

Additional Committee Member 2

Daniel Foti

Additional Committee Member 3

Sebastien Hélie