Does task activation in task switching influence inhibition or episodic interference?


N–2 repetition costs in task switching refer to slower responses to ABA sequences compared to CBA sequences, reflecting the persisting inhibition of task A across the ABA sequence. The magnitude of inhibition is thought to be sensitive to activation levels of interfering tasks. This is supported by larger n–2 repetition costs when the response-cue interval (RCI) is reduced: At short RCIs, a just-performed task is highly active when a new task is required, triggering more inhibition. However, recent work has shown that much of the n-2 repetition cost measures episodic interference, rather than inhibition. The current study addressed whether RCI manipulations influence inhibition or episodic interference. N–2 repetition costs were considerably reduced when episodic interference was controlled. Increasing the RCI led to equivalent reductions in the n–2 repetition cost for inhibition and episodic components of the cost, but for the former the cost was entirely absent at longer RCIs.

Experimental Psychology, in press