Inducing proactive control using a Stroop cueing paradigm
Olsen, Mariana Rachel
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Cognitive control refers to the relative ability to attend to relevant stimuli while ignoring irrelevant stimuli in service of a goal. Braver, Gray, and Burgess (2007) have proposed two complementary forms of control: proactive, which is preparatory in nature, and reactive, which is engaged after a stimulus or imperative event. The ability to use proactive control is often tested using the Stroop task; however, what is usually thought of as evidence for proactive control can be confounded with item-specific effects, sequential effects, and speed-accuracy trade-offs. To remedy this issue, the current study utilized a modified version of the Stroop task to examine the use of proactive control on a trial-by-trial basis. Two experiments tested participants' ability to flexibly engage proactive control in which participants were given 80% predictive EASY or HARD cues indicating whether an upcoming stimulus would be congruent or incongruent, respectively. I hypothesized that participants, especially those high in working memory capacity, would use the HARD cues to engage top-down control to suppress word-reading, leading to a) reduced Stroop interference following HARD cues, b) impaired recall and recognition for neutral words following HARD cues, and c) greater pupil dilation following HARD than EASY cues. In Experiment 1, participants showed reduced Stroop interference for stimuli following HARD relative to EASY cues. This effect was replicated in Experiment 2, with reduced Stroop interference in both reaction times and errors following HARD cues. However, neither recall or pupil dilation differed reliably as a function of cue or WMC. Together, these experiments demonstrate the utility of using a cueing procedure when examining proactive control in the Stroop task. Limitations and future directions in cueing research are discussed.