Generalized Signaling for Control: Evidence From Postconflict and Posterror Performance Adjustments

Raymond Y. Cho, Joseph M. Orr, Jonathan D. Cohen, Cameron S. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Goal-directed behavior requires cognitive control to effect online adjustments in response to ongoing processing demands. How signaling for these adjustments occurs has been a question of much interest. A basic question regarding the architecture of the cognitive control system is whether such signaling for control is specific to task context or generalizes across contexts. In this study, the authors explored this issue using a stimulus-response compatibility paradigm. They examined trial-to-trial adjustments, specifically, the findings that incompatible trials elicit improved performance on subsequent incompatible trials and that responses are slower after errors. The critical question was, Do such control effects-typically observed within a single task context-occur across task contexts? The paradigm involved 2 orthogonal, stimulus-response sets: Stimuli in the horizontal direction mapped only to responses in the horizontal direction, and likewise for the vertical direction. Cues indicated that either compatible (same direction as stimulus) or incompatible (opposite to stimulus) responses were required. The results showed that trial-to-trial adjustments exist for both direction-repeat and direction-switch trials, demonstrating that signaling for control adjustments can extend beyond the task context within which they arise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1177
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Simon task
  • attention
  • behavior
  • cognitive control


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