Appealing to the cognitive miser: Using demand avoidance to modulate cognitive flexibility in cued and voluntary task switching.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Current cognitive control accounts view goal-directed behavior as striking a balance between two antagonistic control demands: Stability, on the one hand, reflects a rigid, focused state of control and flexibility, while on the other, reflects a relaxed, distractible state, whereby goals can be rapidly updated to meet unexpected changes in demands. In the current study, we sought to test whether the avoidance of cognitive demand could motivate people to dynamically regulate control along the stability-flexibility continuum. In both cued (Experiment 1) and voluntary (Experiment 2) task-switching paradigms, we selectively associated either task-switches or task-repetitions with high cognitive demand (independent of task identity), and measured changes in performance in a following phase after the demand manipulation was removed. Contrasting performance with a control group, across both experiments, we found that selectively associating cognitive demand with task repetitions increased flexibility, but selectively associating cognitive demand with task switches failed to increase stability. The results of the current study provide novel evidence for avoidance-driven modulations of control regulation along the stability-flexibility continuum, while also highlighting some limitations in using task-switching paradigms to examine motivational influences on control adaptation. Data, analysis code, experiment code, and preprint available at (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Brosowsky, NP; Egner, T

Published Date

  • October 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 47 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1329 - 1347

PubMed ID

  • 34766818

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8597921

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1939-1277

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0096-1523

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/xhp0000942


  • eng