, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 1040-1050

Verbal representation in task order control: An examination with transition and task cues in random task switching

Abstract

Recent task-switching studies in which a predictable task sequence has been used have indicated that verbal representation contributes to the control of task order information. The present study focused on the role of verbal representation in sequential task decisions, which are an important part of task order control, and examined the effects of articulatory suppression in a random-task-cuing paradigm with two different types of cues presented just before the presentation of a stimulus: a transition cue and a task cue. The former cue provided information only about switching or repeating the task, whereas the latter was associated directly with the identity of the task (i.e., indicating a parity or a magnitude task). In Experiment 1, in which transition cues guided task sequences, articulatory suppression impaired performance in both repetition and switch trials, thereby increasing the mixing costs. In Experiment 2, in which a task cue, rather than a transition cue, was presented to examine the influence of a cue-decoding process, articulatory suppression had no specific effect on task performance. Experiment 3, in which the transition cue and the task cue were randomly presented in the same block to equalize the memory load and task strategy for the two types of cues, confirmed that articulatory suppression significantly increased the mixing costs only in transition cue trials. The results from the three experiments indicated that the use of verbal representation is effective in sequential task decision—that is, in selecting a task set on the basis of transient task order information in both repetition and switch trials.

This research was partly supported by grants from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to E.S.