Electrophysiological correlates of the cognitive control processes underpinning mixing and switching costs

Vincenza Tarantino, Antonino Vallesi, Vincenza Tarantino, Ilaria Mazzonetto

Risultato della ricerca: Articlepeer review

21 Citazioni (Scopus)


Typically, in task-switching contexts individuals are slower and less accurate when repeating a task in mixed blocks compared to single-task blocks (mixing cost) and when switching to a new task compared to repeating a previous one (switch cost). Previous research has shown that distinct electrophysiological correlates underlie these two phenomena. However, this evidence is not a consistent result. The goal of this study was to better characterize differences between the control processes involved in mixing and switch costs. To this aim, we examined event-related potentials (ERPs) evoked during a cued task-switching experiment. In order to minimize the confounding effects of cognitive demands unrelated to task-switching, we asked participants to shift between two simple tasks (a letter identity task and a letter position task). The mixing cost was defined, in terms of ERPs, by contrasting repeat and single-task trials, whereas the ERP switch cost was obtained from the comparison of switch and repeat trials. Cue-locked ERPs showed that the mixing cost was mediated by two sustained components, an early posterior positivity and a late anterior negativity. On the other hand, the switch cost was associated with two early phasic positive components, one principally distributed over centro-parietal sites and the other located over left posterior sites. In target-locked ERPs the mixing cost was expressed by a frontal positivity, whereas the switch cost was expressed by a reduced parietal P3b. Overall, the results extend previous findings by providing elucidating ERP evidence on distinct proactive and reactive control processes involved in mixing and switch costs.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)160-173
Numero di pagine14
RivistaBrain Research
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology

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