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Context-oriented performance biases in cognitive control

Walker, Christopher (2014) Context-oriented performance biases in cognitive control. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Cognitive control, the ability to guide goal-directed behavior, is comprised of a variety of cognitive components functioning in a dynamic balance. Control adjustments are commonly cast as temporally local adaptations reflecting recently encountered task conflict; however, global control processes representing broad task expectancies are relatively unexplored. In an electroencephalographic (EEG) study of a prepotent response inhibition task, we tested whether the congruency effect, where performance tends to be worse for trials involving controlled processes, would be impacted by the overall task context as defined by trial-type proportions. As the proportion of high-control trials increased, we observed that accuracy improved in a more demanding, high-control condition while worsening in the less demanding, low-control condition. More interestingly, this tradeoff resulted in a reversed congruency effect in accuracy for task contexts dominated by high control trials. Furthermore, delay period EEG spectral power in the alpha-frequency band (i.e., 9-13 Hz)—a putative inhibitory mechanism (Klimesch, 2012)—was found to modulate with the task. A significant trial condition by task context interaction revealed a positive monotonic association between accuracy and induced alpha synchrony in low control task contexts with a negative monotonic association in the high control context. Our behavioral results are consistent with cognitive control adjustments occurring through an ‘adaptation-by-binding’ which posits that the continuous arousal resulting from a high conflict context strengthens active task and sensory representations even if disadvantageous to automatic processes (Verguts & Notebaert, 2009). Further, ongoing synchronous cortical alpha-band oscillations could serve as a potential neural mechanism by which this binding effect is achieved.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Walker, Christophercpw17@pitt.eduCPW17
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGhuman,
Committee MemberCho,
Committee MemberLuna, Beatrizlunab@upmc.eduLUNA
Date: 16 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 July 2014
Approval Date: 16 September 2014
Submission Date: 4 August 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 54
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: cognitive control, EEG, alpha synchrony, proactive control, binding
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2014 15:20
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2016 14:42


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