The Task Rule Congruency Effect in Task Switching Reflects Activated Long-Term Memory

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120 Scopus citations


Reaction time task rule congruency effects (RT-TRCEs) reflect faster responses to stimuli for which the competing task rules indicate the same correct response than to stimuli indicating conflicting responses. The authors tested the hypothesis that RT-TRCE reflects activated overlearned response category codes in long-term memory (such as up or left). The results support the hypothesis by showing that (a) RT-TRCE was absent for tasks for which there were no response codes ready beforehand, (b) RT-TRCE was present after these tasks were practiced, and (c) these practice effects were found only if the tasks permitted forming abstract response category codes. The increase in the RT-TRCE with response slowness, found only for familiar tasks, suggests that the abstract response category codes may be verbal or linguistic in these cases. The results are discussed in relation to task-switching theories and prefrontal functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-157
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2008


  • congruency
  • practice
  • prefrontal functions
  • task switching
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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