The representation of instructions in working memory leads to autonomous response activation: Evidence from the first trials in the flanker paradigm

Oshrit Cohen-Kdoshay, Nachshon Meiran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

The authors examined whether instructions can lead to autonomous response activation even without practice. Eriksen and Eriksen's (1974) flanker compatibility paradigm was used to show that the flanker compatibility effect (FCE) is already present in the first trials following the stimulus-response instructions, before any of the stimuli have been repeated. This first-trials FCE was present even when participants were strongly motivated to ignore the flankers, and it disappeared under conditions of high working-memory (WM) load. The findings suggest that intention, formed by instructions, is involved in forming representations in WM that operate like a prepared reflex (Woodworth, 1938). The implications of the finding to intentionality and frontal lobe functions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1140-1154
Number of pages15
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Volume60
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2007

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