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Action selection and effect orienting in a multitasking environment (2015-2018)


Sarah Lukas 

Prof. Dr. Sarah Lukas                     

Principal Investigator

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This project is done in cooperation with Dr. David Dignath (Freiburg), Prof. Dr. Iring Koch and Dr. Denise Stephan (Aachen) and Dr. Stefanie Schuch (Aachen).


Abstract (2015-2018)

Human action can be controlled in two modes: in the sensorimotor mode, actions are rather re-actions to external stimuli, thus simple stimulus-response (S-R) rules are applied. In the ideomotor mode, actions are internally controlled by the anticipated outcome of the respective action. In order that action effects can be used to control one’s action, regularities between action and effect have to be learned. This bi-directional learning can take place in a sensorimotor as well as in an ideomotor way. In sensorimotor learning, given S-R rules are applied, in an ideomotor way, freely chosen responses are performed, but both actions elicit stable effects. Previous research has shown that the mode of learning and the mode of action control interact with each other for simple actions as key-presses. However, it has not been shown yet, how these processes interact with each other in a more complex context, as in task performance. Furthermore, there are indications that action effects can supportingly be used in task performance. The aim of the present project is therefore to investigate learning and action control mode interactions in a task-performance context, as well as to find advantageous factors of action effects that can optimize task execution and task scheduling. To achieve this goal, a cued task-switching paradigm (to investigate sensorimotor action control) and a voluntary task-switching paradigm (to investigate ideomotor action control) are used as research method. In addition, participants experiences task-specific action effects. In a series of experiments it will be examined, how these action effects as well as the learning and the action control mode influence task performance.


Project Output

Sommer, A. & Lukas, S. (2018). Action-effect associations in voluntary and cued task-switching. Front. Psychol. 8:2233. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02233

Schuch, S., Sommer, A., & Lukas, S. (2017). Action control in task switching: do action effects modulate N− 2 repetition costs in task switching?. Psychological Research, 1-11. doi:

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