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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2012 Feb;38(1):222-50. doi: 10.1037/a0026003. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

Decomposing task-switching costs with the diffusion model.

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Institut fur Psychologie, Albert-Ludwigs-Universit├Ąt Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


In four experiments, task-switching processes were investigated with variants of the alternating runs paradigm and the explicit cueing paradigm. The classical diffusion model for binary decisions (Ratcliff, 1978) was used to dissociate different components of task-switching costs. Findings can be reconciled with the view that task-switching processes take place in successive phases as postulated by multiple-components models of task switching (e.g., Mayr & Kliegl, 2003; Ruthruff, Remington, & Johnston, 2001). At an earlier phase, task-set reconfiguration (Rogers & Monsell, 1995) or cue-encoding (Schneider & Logan, 2005) takes place, at a later phase, the response is selected in accord with constraints set in the first phase. Inertia effects (Allport, Styles, & Hsieh, 1994; Allport & Wylie, 2000) were shown to affect this later stage. Additionally, findings support the notion that response caution contributes to both global as well as to local switching costs when task switches are predictable.

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