Psychological Research

, Volume 80, Issue 5, pp 860–876 | Cite as

Proactive control of irrelevant task rules during cued task switching

  • Julie M. Bugg
  • Todd S. Braver
Original Article


In task-switching paradigms, participants are often slower on incongruent than congruent trials, a pattern known as the task-rule congruency effect. This effect suggests that irrelevant task rules or associated responses may be retrieved automatically in spite of task cues. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether the task-rule congruency effect may be modulated via manipulations intended to induce variation in proactive control. Manipulating the proportion of congruent to incongruent trials strongly influenced the magnitude of the task-rule congruency effect. The effect was significantly reduced in a mostly incongruent list relative to a mostly congruent list, a pattern that was observed for not only biased but also 50 % congruent items. This finding implicates a role for global attentional control processes in the task-rule congruency effect. In contrast, enhancing the preparation of relevant (cued) task rules by the provision of a monetary incentive substantially reduced mixing costs but did not affect the task-rule congruency effect. These patterns support the view that there may be multiple routes by which proactive control can influence task-switching performance; however, only select routes appear to influence the automatic retrieval of irrelevant task rules.


Incongruent Trial Irrelevant Dimension Switch Trial Task Rule Proactive Control 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (R37 MH066078). The authors are grateful to Bridgette Shamleffer, Marie Krug, Kevin Oksanen, and Jason Li for assistance with data collection and programming.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Campus Box 1125Washington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA

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