The relationship between alertness and executive control

Noam Weinbach, Avishai Henik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The current study focuses on the relationship between alerting and executive attention. Previous studies reported an increased flanker congruency effect following alerting cues. In the first two experiments, we found that the alertness-congruency interaction did not exist for all executive tasks (it appeared for a flanker task but not for a Stroop task). In Experiments 3 and 4, we show that alerting increases the congruency effect in a response selection task only when the relevant and irrelevant information is spatially separated. We suggest that alerting modulates the allocation of attention by prioritizing processing of spatial information presented in the visual field. This process can be adaptive under many circumstances, but it comes at a cost. Alerting could possibly compromise our performance when required to filter out irrelevant spatial information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1530-1540
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • Alerting
  • Attentional networks
  • Executive attention
  • Executive control
  • Phasic alertness
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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