OS_09. Executive control
Friday, September 30th, 2011 [14:20 - 16:00]
OS_09.1 - The impact of physical activity on the executive functions inhibition and updating
Barenberg, J. , Berse, T. , Hilboll, D. & Dutke, S.
University of Muenster
As executive functions play an essential role in many complex cognitive tasks, approaches capable of enhancing executive functioning are of particular interest to cognitive research. Recently, in sports and neurosciences, the hypothesis has been advanced that executive functioning, more than other cognitive functions, may benefit from neurobiological processes induced by physical activity. There is a growing body of research examining executive functions and physical activity but, up to date, it is still unclear which executive functions do benefit from physical activity and to which extent beneficial effects are limited to executive task components. To explore these questions, a series of experiments is being conducted. The first experiment with N=48 young adults was designed to test the effect of physical activity on inhibition and updating functions in a cross-over design. Inhibition and updating tasks were applied immediately after a short period of intense ergometer cycling or resting. The order of intervention type and executive task was counterbalanced. Physical activity enhanced inhibition performance to a greater extent than updating performance. However, performance in non-executive control tasks did not differ after physical activity and resting, respectively.
OS_09.2 - Conflict adaptation during verbal response selection
Alario, F. 1 , Ostrand, R. 2 , Thoenig, M. 3 & Burle, B. 4
1 Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive, Aix-Marseille université & CNRS, Marseille, France
2 Departement of Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego, USA
3 Department of Economics, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland
4 Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Cognitive, Aix-Marseille université & CNRS, Marseille, France
Cognitive control broadly refers to our ability to adapt behavior to an evolving environment. A paradigmatic manifestation of this ability are adaptation effects in conflict resolution tasks. When participants respond to a visual stimulus carrying conflicting information (e.g. a target arrow and distracting arrows pointing in different directions), latencies are longer than in the absence of such conflict. An adaptation (aka Gratton) effect occurs when the magnitude of the conflict effect in a given trial is modulated by the nature (conflict vs. no conflict) of the preceding trial. We set out to distinguish adaptation to conflict from effects of stimulus or response repetition, and from performance effects (i.e. auto-correlation naturally present in response time series). To do so, we resorted to a verbal Stroop task with eighth different targets and distractors, and we conducted advanced data processing at the single trial level. The results of two experiments show that adaptation occurs for current conflict trials only, in the absence of stimulus or response repetition, and that it lasts several trials. Finally, conflict induced by subliminal distractors did not result in adaptation. These results have consequences for our understanding of the control operations reflected by adaptation effects.
OS_09.3 - Physical-exercise-intermezzi for improved learning
Berse, T. 1 , Dutke, S. 1 , Uhlenbrock, K. 2, 3 , Völker, K. 2 & Knecht, S. 3
1 University of Muenster, Institute of Psychology in Education
2 University Hospital Muenster, Institute of Sports Medicine
3 University Hospital Muenster, Department of Neurology
Given the relevance of associative learning and executive functioning for learning, optimizing these cognitive processes is highly desirable from an educational point of view. A growing body of research in sports and neurosciences suggests that physical exercise can improve cognitive functioning. The current study investigated a sample of eighth- and ninth-grade students using a cross-over design. Performance in a set-shifting task and in an implicit associative word learning paradigm (Wernicko) was measured after a short, intense physical exercise intervention on a bicycle ergometer and a period of rest. The order of interventions was counterbalanced between participants. In contrast to previous studies, the present sample consisted of healthy high-school students, and the complete experimental procedure was run at school. Intermediate analysis of 109 participants indicated that physical exercise significantly reduced shifting costs. With respect to associative learning performance we found an interaction between type of condition and order of condition only in a subgroup of efficient learners. We concluded that short high-impact physical exercise interventions are beneficial for learning. However, the exercise effect vanished when the learning task was too difficult.
Final analysis of the complete sample will be presented and discussed at the conference.
OS_09.4 - Is the ability to prepare for a task impaired in old age? Evidence from a task-switching study
Lawo, V. , Philipp, A. M. , Schuch, S. & Koch, I.
RWTH Aachen University
A robust finding is that performance impairments in task-switching conditions (mixed-task blocks) relative to single-task conditions are larger for old adults than for young adults. Previous studies have suggested that these increased “mixing costs” are due to deficits either in the preparation of the relevant task set or to deficits in the inhibition of competing task sets. The aim of our study is therefore to examine the role of task preparation and task inhibition in the age-related increase in mixing costs. In two experiments, using a task-cuing paradigm with three different tasks, we assessed task preparation by manipulating the cue-stimulus interval (CSI). Task inhibition was assessed by measuring n-2 task repetition costs (e.g., ABA vs. CBA task sequences), which are assumed to reflect persisting inhibition of abandoned task sets. In both experiments, we observed a smaller preparation benefit in old adults. In Experiment 1, we found larger mixing costs for old adults than for young adults. Additionally, we only found n-2 repetition costs in Experiment 2 using blocked CSIs. These costs were comparable in both age groups. Together, the data suggest that impaired task-switching performance in old age is primarily due to a deficit in task preparation.
OS_09.5 - Neuroticism affects switch costs, but not inhibition in cognitive flexibility
Gade, M. 1 & Paelecke, M. 2
1 Universität Zürich, Switzerland
2 Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany
Personality traits are assumed to be reflected in individual differences in basic cognitive performance. Higher levels of dispositional negative emotionality, usually associated with biased processing of unpleasant stimuli, have been shown recently to be associated with increased performance in tasks affording cognitive control processes. We tested whether individual differences in switch costs and inhibition costs (measured as n-2 repetition) can be dissociated and how such differences are related to the trait Neuroticism (as measured via the NEO-PIR). Our subjects performed two experiments in randomized order: In one they did a classical task switching experiment, assessing cognitive flexibility when switching between two tasks. In the other experiment, we devised another switching experiment, this time analyzing n-2 repetition costs, i.e. comparing n-2 switches (CBA sequences) to n-2 repetitions (ABA sequences). Across both studies switch costs and inhibition costs were unrelated. So far, Neuroticism was associated with reduced switch costs, whereby correlations were absent and even reversed for our inhibitory measure. Beneath suggesting the value of personality traits to account for performance of basic cognitive functions, personality traits as assessed via a standardized questionnaire can also be used to answer ongoing cognitive theorizing.