The congruency sequence effect 3.0: a critical test of conflict adaptation.
ABSTRACT: Over the last two decades, the congruency sequence effect (CSE) -the finding of a reduced congruency effect following incongruent trials in conflict tasks- has played a central role in advancing research on cognitive control. According to the influential conflict-monitoring account, the CSE reflects adjustments in selective attention that enhance task focus when needed, often termed conflict adaptation. However, this dominant interpretation of the CSE has been called into question by several alternative accounts that stress the role of episodic memory processes: feature binding and (stimulus-response) contingency learning. To evaluate the notion of conflict adaptation in accounting for the CSE, we construed versions of three widely used experimental paradigms (the colour-word Stroop, picture-word Stroop and flanker task) that effectively control for feature binding and contingency learning. Results revealed that a CSE can emerge in all three tasks. This strongly suggests a contribution of attentional control to the CSE and highlights the potential of these unprecedentedly clean paradigms for further examining cognitive control.
Project description:The congruency effect in distracter interference (e.g., Stroop) tasks is often reduced after incongruent trials, relative to congruent trials. It has been proposed that this congruency sequence effect (CSE) results from trial-by-trial adjustments of attention, which are triggered by changes in response conflict, expectancy, or negative affect. Hence, a large literature has developed to investigate the source(s) of attention adaptation in distracter interference tasks. Recent work, however, suggests that CSEs may stem from feature integration and/or contingency learning processes that are confounded with congruency sequence in the vast majority of distracter interference tasks. By combining an established method for measuring CSEs in the absence of these learning and memory confounds with a prime-probe task, we observed robust CSEs in two experiments. These findings provide strong evidence of CSEs independent of learning and memory confounds, which might be explainable by trial-by-trial adjustments of attention. They also reveal a highly effective approach for observing CSEs independent of the typical confounds, which will facilitate future studies of how people adapt to distraction.
Project description:In the Stroop task, participants identify the print color of color words. The congruency effect is the observation that response times and errors are increased when the word and color are incongruent (e.g., the word "red" in green ink) relative to when they are congruent (e.g., "red" in red). The proportion congruent (PC) effect is the finding that congruency effects are reduced when trials are mostly incongruent rather than mostly congruent. This PC effect can be context-specific. For instance, if trials are mostly incongruent when presented in one location and mostly congruent when presented in another location, the congruency effect is smaller for the former location. Typically, PC effects are interpreted in terms of strategic control of attention in response to conflict, termed conflict adaptation or conflict monitoring. In the present manuscript, however, an episodic learning account is presented for context-specific proportion congruent (CSPC) effects. In particular, it is argued that context-specific contingency learning can explain part of the effect, and context-specific rhythmic responding can explain the rest. Both contingency-based and temporal-based learning can parsimoniously be conceptualized within an episodic learning framework. An adaptation of the Parallel Episodic Processing model is presented. This model successfully simulates CSPC effects, both for contingency-biased and contingency-unbiased (transfer) items. The same fixed-parameter model can explain a range of other findings from the learning, timing, binding, practice, and attentional control domains.
Project description:The congruency sequence effect (CSE) refers to the finding that the effect of cognitive conflict is smaller following conflicting, incongruent trials than after non-conflicting, congruent trials in conflict tasks, such as the Stroop, Simon, and flanker tasks. This is typically interpreted as an upregulation of cognitive control in response to conflict. Weissman, Jiang, & Egner (2014) investigated whether the CSE appears in these three tasks and a further variant where task-irrelevant distractors precede the target (prime-probe task), in the absence of learning and memory confounds in samples collected online. They found significant CSEs only in the prime-probe and Simon tasks, suggesting that the effect is more robust in tasks where the distractor can be translated into a response faster than the target. In this Registered Replication Report we collected data online from samples approx. 2.5 times larger than in the original study for each of the four tasks to investigate whether the task-related differences in the magnitude of the CSE are replicable (Nmin = 115, Nmax = 130). Our findings extend but do not contradict the original results: Bayesian analyses suggested that the CSE was present in all four tasks in RT but only in the Simon task in accuracy. The size of the effect did not differ between tasks, and the size of the congruency effect was not correlated with the size of the CSE across participants. These findings suggest it might be premature to conclude that the difference in the speed of distractor- vs target-related response activation is a determinant of the size of cross-trial modulations of control. The practical implications of our results for online data collection in cognitive control research are also discussed.
Project description:Several parameters influence the interference effect elicited in a Stroop task, especially contextual information. Contextual effects in the Stroop paradigms are known as the Gratton or Sequential congruency effect (SCE). This research aims at isolating two processes contributing to the SCE in a Stroop paradigm, namely attentional reorientation from the color to the word and vice-versa, as well as inhibition (engagement/disengagement from one trial to the next one). To this end, in Study 1 subprocesses of the SCE were isolated. Specifically, attentional reorientation and inhibition were segregated by submitting young adults to a discrete verbal Stroop task including neutral trials. In Study 2, the same procedure was applied to 124 participants aged from 10 to 80 years old to analyze how interference, SCE, and the aforementioned decomposition of attention and inhibition change across the lifespan. In both studies, the Gratton effect was only partially replicated, while both attentional reorientation and inhibition effects were observed, supporting the idea that these two processes contribute to SCE on top of conflict monitoring and of other processes highlighted in different theories (contingency learning, feature integration, and repetition expectancy). Finally, the classical age-related evolution was replicated in Study 2 on raw interference scores, but no age effect was observed when processing speed was taken into account, nor on the isolated attentional reorientation and inhibition processes, which is in line with the hypothesis of stability of the inhibition processes over age.
Project description:In standard attentional control tasks, interference effects are reduced following incongruent trials compared to congruent trials, a phenomenon known as the congruency sequence effect (CSE). Typical explanations of this effect suggest the CSE is due to changes in levels of control across adjacent trials. This interpretation has been questioned by the finding that older adults, individuals with impaired attentional control systems, have been shown to produce larger CSEs in the Stroop task compared with younger adult controls. In 2 experiments, we investigate the generality of this finding by examining how the CSE changes in healthy aging in 3 standard attentional control tasks-Stroop, Simon, and flanker-while controlling for additional confounds that have plagued some of the past literature. In both experiments, older adult participants exhibited a larger CSE in the Stroop task, replicating recent research, but smaller CSEs in both the Simon and flanker paradigms. These results are interpreted as reflecting a pathway priming mechanism in the Stroop task but a control adjustment process in Simon and flanker. Hence, there appears to be different mechanisms underlying the CSE which are engaged based on the type of attentional selection that is required by the task. More generally, these results question the use of the CSE in the Stroop task as a measure of dynamic adjustments in attentional control and highlight the importance of consideration of task-specific control systems underlying the CSE. (PsycINFO Database Record
Project description:It has been well documented that cognitive conflict is sensitive to the relative proportion of congruent and incongruent trials. However, few studies have examined whether affective conflict processing is modulated as a function of proportion congruency (PC). To address this question we recorded event-related potentials (ERP) while subjects performed both cognitive and affective face-word Stroop tasks. By varying the proportion of congruent and incongruent trials in each block, we examined the extent to which PC impacts both cognitive and affective conflict control at different temporal stages. Results showed that in the cognitive task an anteriorly localized early N2 component occurred predominantly in the low proportion congruency context, whereas in the affective task it was found to occur in the high proportion congruency one. The N2 effects across the two tasks were localized to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, where responses were increased in the cognitive task but decreased in the affective one. Furthermore, high proportions of congruent items produced both larger amplitude of a posteriorly localized sustained potential component and a larger behavioral Stroop effect in cognitive and affective tasks. Our findings suggest that cognitive and affective conflicts engage early dissociable attentional control mechanisms and a later common conflict response system.
Project description:There is a growing interest in assessing how cognitive processes fluidly adjust across trials within a task. Dynamic adjustments of control are typically measured using the congruency sequence effect (CSE), which refers to the reduction in interference following an incongruent trial, relative to a congruent trial. However, it is unclear if this effect stems from a general control mechanism or a distinct process tied to cross-trial reengagement of the task set. We examine the relationship of the CSE with another measure of control referred to as the item-specific proportion congruency effect (ISPC), the finding that frequently occurring congruent items exhibit greater interference than items that are often incongruent. If the two effects reflect the same control mechanism, one should find interactive effects of CSE and ISPC. We report results from three experiments utilizing a vocal Stroop task that manipulated these two effects while controlling for variables that are often confounded in the literature. Across three experiments, we observed large CSE and ISPC effects. Importantly, these effects were robustly additive with one another (Bayes Factor for the null approaching 9). This finding indicates that the CSE and ISPC arise from independent mechanisms and suggests the CSE in Stroop may reflect a more general response adjustment process that is not directly tied to trial-by-trial changes in attentional control.
Project description:The visual color-word Stroop task is widely used in clinical and research settings as a measure of cognitive control. Numerous neuroimaging studies have used color-word Stroop tasks to investigate the neural resources supporting cognitive control, but to our knowledge all have used unimodal (typically visual) Stroop paradigms. Thus, it is possible that this classic measure of cognitive control is not capturing the resources involved in multisensory cognitive control. The audiovisual integration and crossmodal correspondence literatures identify regions sensitive to congruency of auditory and visual stimuli, but it is unclear how these regions relate to the unimodal cognitive control literature. In this study we aimed to identify brain regions engaged by crossmodal cognitive control during an audiovisual color-word Stroop task, and how they relate to previous unimodal Stroop and audiovisual integration findings. First, we replicated previous behavioral audiovisual Stroop findings in an fMRI-adapted audiovisual Stroop paradigm: incongruent visual information increased reaction time towards an auditory stimulus and congruent visual information decreased reaction time. Second, we investigated the brain regions supporting cognitive control during an audiovisual color-word Stroop task using fMRI. Similar to unimodal cognitive control tasks, a left superior parietal region exhibited an interference effect of visual information on the auditory stimulus. This superior parietal region was also identified using a standard audiovisual integration localizing procedure, indicating that audiovisual integration resources are sensitive to cognitive control demands. Facilitation of the auditory stimulus by congruent visual information was found in posterior superior temporal cortex, including in the posterior STS which has been found to support audiovisual integration. The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, often implicated in unimodal Stroop tasks, was not modulated by the audiovisual Stroop task. Overall the findings indicate that an audiovisual color-word Stroop task engages overlapping resources with audiovisual integration and overlapping but distinct resources compared to unimodal Stroop tasks.
Project description:Exploring the mechanisms of cognitive control is central to understanding how we control our behaviour. These mechanisms can be studied in conflict paradigms, which require the inhibition of irrelevant responses to perform the task. It has been suggested that in these tasks, the detection of conflict enhances cognitive control resulting in improved conflict resolution of subsequent trials. If this is the case, then this so-called congruency sequence effect can be expected to occur in cross-domain tasks. Previous research on the domain-generality of the effect presented inconsistent results. In this study, we provide a multi-site replication of three previous experiments of Kan <i>et al</i>. (Kan IP, Teubner-Rhodes S, Drummey AB, Nutile L, Krupa L, Novick JM 2013 <i>Cognition</i> <b>129</b>, 637-651) which test congruency sequence effect between very different domains: from a syntactic to a non-syntactic domain (Experiment 1), and from a perceptual to a verbal domain (Experiments 2 and 3). Despite all our efforts, we found only partial support for the claims of the original study. With a single exception, we could not replicate the original findings; the data remained inconclusive or went against the theoretical hypothesis. We discuss the compatibility of the results with alternative theoretical frameworks.
Project description:The automaticity of reading is often explored through the Stroop effect, whereby color-naming is affected by color words. Color associates (e.g., "sky") also produce a Stroop effect, suggesting that automatic reading occurs through to the level of semantics, even when reading sub-lexically (e.g., the pseudohomophone "skigh"). However, several previous experiments have confounded congruency with contingency learning, whereby faster responding occurs for more frequent stimuli. Contingency effects reflect a higher frequency-pairing of the word with a font color in the congruent condition than in the incongruent condition due to the limited set of congruent pairings. To determine the extent to which the Stroop effect can be attributed to contingency learning of font colors paired with lexical (word-level) and sub-lexical (phonetically decoded) letter strings, as well as assess facilitation and interference relative to contingency effects, we developed two neutral baselines: each one matched on pair-frequency for congruent and incongruent color words. In Experiments 1 and 3, color words (e.g., "blue") and their pseudohomophones (e.g., "bloo") produced significant facilitation and interference relative to neutral baselines, regardless of whether the onset (i.e., first phoneme) was matched to the color words. Color associates (e.g., "ocean") and their pseudohomophones (e.g., "oshin"), however, showed no significant facilitation or interference relative to onset matched neutral baselines (Experiment 2). When onsets were unmatched, color associate words produced consistent facilitation on RT (e.g., "ocean" vs. "dozen"), but pseudohomophones (e.g., "oshin" vs. "duhzen") failed to produce facilitation or interference. Our findings suggest that the Stroop effects for color and associated stimuli are sensitive to the type of neutral baseline used, as well as stimulus type (word vs. pseudohomophone). In general, contingency learning plays a large role when repeating congruent items more than incongruent items, but appropriate pair-frequency matched neutral baselines allow for the assessment of genuine facilitation and interference. Using such baselines, we found reading processes proceed to a semantic level for familiar words, but not pseudohomophones (i.e., phonetic decoding). Such assessment is critical for separating the effects of genuine congruency from contingency during automatic word reading in the Stroop task, and when used with color associates, isolates the semantic contribution.