Cognitive Dynamics Lab

External and Internal Cues

If encoding into and retrieval from memory are critical components of flexible behavior, it is important to look at the role of internal or external cues that signal upcoming task demands (Mayr & Kliegl, 2003, see also Mayr & Kliegl, 2000).

In fact, we have shown that a large part of task-switch costs have nothing to with the actual change in task-relevant control settings, but simply with the change in task cues (Mayr & Kliegl, 2000; 2003; Mayr, in press; see Figure).


Response times, when cues and tasks change (green), only cues change (red), or both cues and tasks repeat (blue). Much of the total switch cost arises from a mere change in cue

This line of work has also provided a way of distinguishing between those neuro-cogntive, switch-related processes that are tied to changes in task cues and those that are related to actual changes in tasks (Bryck & Mayr, in prep.; Jost, Mayr, & Roesler, under review). For example, the Figure below shows neural evidence from ERPs and fMRI suggesting that cue-switching and task-switching are in fact associated distinct neural-level components.



Mayr, U. & Kliegl, R. (2000). Task-set switching and long-term memory retrieval. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 26, 1124-1140. PDF

Mayr. U. &; Kliegl, R. (2003). Differential effects of cue changes and task changes on task-set selection costs. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 29, 362-372. PDF

Mayr, U. (2006). What matters in the cued task-switching paradigm: Tasks or cues? Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 5, 794-799. PDF

Spieler, D., Mayr, U., & LaGrone, S. (in press). Outsourcing cognitive control to the environment: Adult age differences in the use of task cues. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. PDF

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