Modeling task switching without switching tasks: a short-term priming account of explicitly cued performance

Darryl W Schneider, Gordon D Logan
Journal of Experimental Psychology. General 2005, 134 (3): 343-67
Switch costs in task switching are commonly attributed to an executive control process of task-set reconfiguration, particularly in studies involving the explicit task-cuing procedure. The authors propose an alternative account of explicitly cued performance that is based on 2 mechanisms: priming of cue encoding from residual activation of cues in short-term memory and compound cue retrieval of responses from long-term memory. Their short-term priming account explains the repeated cue encoding benefit, switch cost, reduction in switch cost with preparation time, and other effects. The authors develop a mathematical model of their priming account and fit it to data from 3 experiments, demonstrating that a set of basic psychological processes can produce several effects--including putative switch costs--without switching tasks.

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