The bivalency effect represents an interference-triggered adjustment of cognitive control: An ERP study
When bivalent stimuli (i.e., stimuli with relevant features for two different tasks) occur occasionally among univalent stimuli, performance is slowed on subsequent univalent stimuli even if they have no overlapping stimulus features. This finding has been labeled the bivalency effect. It indexes an adjustment of cognitive control, but the underlying mechanism is not well understood yet. The purpose of the present study was to shed light on this question, using event-related potentials. We used a paradigm requiring predictable alternations between three tasks, with bivalent stimuli occasionally occurring on one task. The results revealed that the bivalency effect elicited a sustained parietal positivity and a frontal negativity, a neural signature that is typical for control processes implemented to resolve interference. We suggest that the bivalency effect reflects interference, which may be caused by episodic context binding.
KeywordsBivalent stimuli Task switching Conflict
This work was supported by a grant from the Janggen-Pöhn Foundation to A. Rey-Mermet, by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant 130104) to B. Meier and by the Center for Cognition Learning and Memory, University of Bern. We thank Julia Kummer and Tullia Padovani for assistance in conducting the experiment and Stefan Walter for helpful comments on an earlier version.
- Allport, A., Styles, E. A., & Hsieh, S. (1994). Shifting intentional set: Exploring the dynamic control of tasks. In C. Umilta & M. Moscovitch (Eds.), Attention and performance XV: Conscious and nonconscious information processing (pp. 421–452). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Allport, A., & Wylie, G. (1999). Task-switching: Positive and negative priming of task-set. In G. W. Humphreys, J. Duncan, & A. M. Treisman (Eds.), Attention, space and action: Studies in cognitive neuroscience (pp. 273–296). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Allport, A., & Wylie, G. (2000). Task-switching, stimulus–response bindings, and negative priming. In S. Monsell & J. S. Driver (Eds.), Control of cognitive processes: Attention and performance XVIII (pp. 35–70). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Braver, T. S., Gray, J. R., & Burgess, G. C. (2007). Explaining the many varieties of working memory variation: Dual mechanisms of cognitive control. In A. R. A. Conway, C. Jarrold, M. J. Kane, A. Miyake, & J. N. Towse (Eds.), Variation in Working Memory (pp. 76–106). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fagot, C. (1994). Chronometric investigations of task switching (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of California, San Diego.Google Scholar
- Jersild, A. T. (1927). Mental set and shift. Archives of Psychology, 89, 5–82.Google Scholar
- Smith, R. E. (2003). The cost of remembering to remember in event-based prospective memory: Investigating the capacity demands of delayed intention performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 29, 347–361. doi: 10.1037/0278-7322.214.171.1247 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Strik, W. K., Fallgatter, A. J., Brandeis, D., & Pascual-Marqui, R. D. (1998). Three-dimensional tomography of event-related potentials during response inhibition: Evidence for phasic frontal lobe activation. Electroencephalographie and Clinical Neurophysiology, 108, 406–413. doi: 10.1016/S0168-5597(98)00021-5 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Wirth, M., Horn, H., Koenig, T., Razafimandimby, A., Stein, M., Müller, T., et al. (2008). The early context effect reflects activity in the temporo-prefrontal semantic system: Evidence from electrical neuroimaging of abstract and concrete word reading. NeuroImage, 42, 423–436. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.03.045 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar