Resolving Task Rule Incongruence During Task Switching by Competitor Rule Suppression

Nachshon Meiran, Shulan Hsieh, Eduard Dimov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Task switching requires maintaining readiness to execute any task of a given set of tasks. However, when tasks switch, the readiness to execute the now-irrelevant task generates interference, as seen in the task rule incongruence effect. Overcoming such interference requires fine-tuned inhibition that impairs task readiness only minimally. In an experiment involving 2 object classification tasks and 2 location classification tasks, the authors show that irrelevant task rules that generate response conflicts are inhibited. This competitor rule suppression (CRS) is seen in response slowing in subsequent trials, when the competing rules become relevant. CRS is shown to operate on specific rules without affecting similar rules. CRS and backward inhibition, which is another inhibitory phenomenon, produced additive effects on reaction time, suggesting their mutual independence. Implications for current formal theories of task switching as well as for conflict monitoring theories are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)992-1002
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jul

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


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