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The influence of sequentially changing reward prospects on cognitive flexibility during (voluntary) task switching (2015-2018)

Team

Gesine DreisbachGesine Dreisbach

Prof. Dr. Gesine Dreisbach             

Principal Investigator

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Kerstin Fröber

Dr. Kerstin Fröber

Principal Investigator

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Vanessa Jurczyk

Vanessa Jurczyk

PhD Candidate

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Abstract (2015-2018)

Attending to two (or more) tasks at the same time requires cognitive flexibility and is associated with performance decrements as compared to single task performance. In cognitive psychology, the task switching paradigm has become a popular tool to investigate a specific kind of multitasking performance, namely performing more than one task in a sequential and random order. In this paradigm, task switches afford cognitive flexibility, whereas task repetitions benefit from cognitive stability. This makes the task switching paradigm an ideal tool to investigate the interplay of two antagonistic control modes, namely flexibility and stability.

Considering the increasing importance of successful multitasking performance in modern society it is essential to identify ways to differentially motivate flexible and stable behavior. Recent evidence (Shen & Chun, 2011; Fröber & Dreisbach, in press) suggests that specifically increases in expected reward magnitude increase flexibility whereas the prospect of unchanged high reward increases stability: Predetermined task switches are facilitated and the willingness to deliberately switch the task is increased as compared to unchanged high reward prospect. Aim of the proposed research program is to further investigate how sequential changes in reward prospect differentially influence stability versus flexibility during (voluntary) task switching.

In one part of the first funding period, we want to investigate the boundary conditions of the modulation of cognitive flexibility by sequentially changing reward magnitudes. Therefore, we will manipulate global context parameters like the ratio of forced to voluntary task switching, specific instructions given to the participant (on how to choose freely), the absolute vs. relative amount of reward prospect, and varying task difficulties. In the other part, we will focus on the interaction of task expectancies and reward expectancies. Increased cognitive flexibility should facilitate adaptation to unexpected events. Therefore, we want to investigate how sequentially changing reward prospect modulates performance under violations of expectation and increased uncertainty using different procedures of voluntary and forced task switching. The overarching goal of this research program is to deepen our understanding of how global context parameters and motivation modulate processes of cognitive flexibility. As such, the project contributes to the second cluster of the priority program (“Flexibility”).

 

Project output

Dreisbach, G. & Fröber, K. (in press). On how to be to be flexible (or not): Modulation of the flexibility-stability balance. Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Jurczyk, V., Fröber, K., & Dreisbach, G. (in press). Increasing reward prospect motivates switching to the more difficult task. Motivation Science.

Fischer R., Fröber, K. & Dreisbach, G. (2018). Shielding and relaxation in multitasking: Prospect of reward counteracts relaxation of task shielding in multitasking. Acta Psychologica, 191, 112-123.

Fröber, K., Raith, L., & Dreisbach, G. (2018). The dynamic balance between cognitive flexibility and stability: the influcence of local changes in reward expectation and global task context on voluntary switch rate. Psychological Research, 82(1), 65-77. doi: 10.1007/s00426-017-0922-2

Fröber, K. & Dreisbach, G. (2017). Keep flexible - Keep switching! The influence of forced task switching on voluntary task switching. Cognition, 162, 48-53. doi: http://0.1016/j.cognition.2017.01.024.

Fröber, K., Raith, L., & Dreisbach, G. (2017). The dynamic balance between cognitive flexibility and stability: The influence of local changes in reward expectation and global task context on voluntary switch rate. Psychological Research.

Fröber, K., & Dreisbach, G. (2016). How Sequential Changes in Reward Magnitude Modulate Cognitive Flexibility: Evidence From Voluntary Task Switching. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42(2), 285-295. doi: 10.1037/xlm0000166.

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