Limits of Executive Control: Sequential Effects in Predictable Environments
McLaren, Ian P.L.
2016, 03, 21
Association for Psychological Science
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Association for Psychological Science via the DOI in this record.
Cognitive control theories attribute action control to executive processes that modulate behavior based on expectancy or task rules. Here we examined corticospinal excitability and behavioral performance in a go/no-go task. Go and no-go trials were presented in runs of 5, and runs alternated predictably. At the beginning of each trial, subjects indicated whether they expected a go trial or a no-go trial. Analyses revealed that subjects immediately adjusted their expectancy ratings when a new run started. However, motor excitability was primarily associated with the properties of the previous trial, rather than the predicted properties of the current trial. We also observed a large go latency cost at the beginning of a go run. These findings indicate that actions in predictable environments are substantially influenced by previous events, even if this goes against conscious expectancies about upcoming events.
The dataset for this article is available at http://hdl.handle.net/10871/19257.
Published online March 21, 2016