Conflict resolution in the Eriksen flanker task : Similarities and differences to the Simon task

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In the Eriksen flanker task as well as in the Simon task irrelevant activation produces a response conflict that has to be resolved by mental control mechanisms. Despite these similarities, however, the tasks differ with respect to their delta functions, which express how the congruency effects develop with response time. The slope of the delta function is mostly positive for the flanker task, but negative for the Simon task. Much effort has been spent to explain this difference and to investigate whether it results from task-specific control. A prominent account is that the temporal overlap between irrelevant and relevant response activation is larger in the flanker task than in the Simon task. To test this hypothesis, we increased the temporal distance in a flanker task by presenting the flankers ahead of the target. This not only produced negatively sloped delta functions but also caused reversed congruency effects. We also conducted a Simon-task experiment in which we varied the proportion of congruent stimuli. As a result, the delta function was negatively sloped only if the proportion was low. These results demonstrate that a long temporal distance is necessary but not sufficient for observing negatively sloped delta functions. Finally, we modeled the data with drift-diffusion models. Together, our results show that differently sloped delta functions can be produced with both tasks. They further indicate that activation suppression is an important control mechanism that can be adapted rather flexibly to the control demands.

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ISO 690HÜBNER, Ronald, Lisa TÖBEL, 2019. Conflict resolution in the Eriksen flanker task : Similarities and differences to the Simon task. In: PLoS one. 2019, 14(3), e0214203. eISSN 1932-6203. Available under: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214203
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@article{Hubner2019Confl-45714,
  year={2019},
  doi={10.1371/journal.pone.0214203},
  title={Conflict resolution in the Eriksen flanker task : Similarities and differences to the Simon task},
  number={3},
  volume={14},
  journal={PLoS one},
  author={Hübner, Ronald and Töbel, Lisa},
  note={Article Number: e0214203}
}
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