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Cogn Psychol. 2007 Aug;55(1):37-85. Epub 2006 Oct 31.

A computational model of fractionated conflict-control mechanisms in task-switching.

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Department of Psychology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.


A feature of human cognition is the ability to monitor and adjust one's own behavior under changing circumstances. A dynamic balance between controlled and rapid responding is needed to adapt to a fluctuating environment. We suggest that cognitive control may include, among other things, two distinct processes. Incongruent stimuli may drive top-down facilitation of task-relevant responses to bias performance toward exploitation vs. exploration. Task or response switches may generally slow responses to bias toward accuracy vs. speed and exploration vs. exploitation. Behavioral results from a task switching study demonstrate these two distinct processes as revealed by higher-order sequential effects. A computational model implements the two conflict-control mechanisms, which allow it to capture many complex and novel sequential effects. Lesion studies with the model demonstrate that the model is unable to capture these effects without the conflict-control loops and show how each monitoring component modulates cognitive control. The results suggest numerous testable predictions regarding the neural substrates of cognitive control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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