Cognitivecontrol has long been one of the most active areas of computational modeling work in cognitive science. The focus on computational models as a medium for specifying and developing theory predates the PDP books, and cognitivecontrol was not one of the areas on which they focused. However, the framework they provided has injected work on cognitivecontrol with new energy and new ideas. On the occasion of the books' anniversary, we review (...) computational modeling in the study of cognitivecontrol, with a focus on the influence that the PDP approach has brought to bear in this area. Rather than providing a comprehensive review, we offer a framework for thinking about past and future modeling efforts in this domain. We define control in terms of the optimal parameterization of task processing. From this vantage point, the development of control systems in the brain can be seen as responding to the structure of naturalistic tasks, through the filter of the brain systems with which control directly interfaces. This perspective lays open a set of fascinating but difficult research questions, which together define an important frontier for future computational research. (shrink)
The past 25 years have witnessed an increasing awareness of the importance of cognitivecontrol in the regulation of complex behavior. It now sits alongside attention, memory, language, and thinking as a distinct domain within cognitive psychology. At the same time it permeates each of these sibling domains. This introduction reviews recent work on cognitivecontrol in an attempt to provide a context for the fundamental question addressed within this topic: Is cognitivecontrol (...) to be understood as resulting from the interaction of multiple distinct control processes, or are the phenomena of cognitivecontrol emergent? (shrink)
We review the relationships between language, inner speech, and cognitivecontrol in children and young adults, focusing on the domain of cognitive flexibility. We address the role that inner speech plays in flexibly shifting between tasks, addressing whether it is used to represent task rules, provide a reminder of task order, or aid in task retrieval. We also consider whether the development of inner speech in childhood serves to drive the development of cognitive flexibility. We conclude (...) that there is a close association between inner speech and cognitive flexibility in both adults and children. Experimental work has begun to specify in detail the role that inner speech might play in adult performance, suggesting that language plays a facilitative but not essential role in representing and activating the relevant task set, processes that occur on both switch and nonswitch trials. While developmental studies suggest an increase in the spontaneous use of verbal strategies with age, implying an increase in top-down control during shifting, experimental work is needed to specify more precisely the nature and precise role that inner speech plays in the development of cognitivecontrol through childhood. (shrink)
Cognitivecontrol is easy to identify in its effects, but difficult to grasp conceptually. This creates somewhat of a puzzle: Is cognitivecontrol a bona fide process or an epiphenomenon that merely exists in the mind of the observer? The topiCS special edition on cognitivecontrol presents a broad set of perspectives on this issue and helps to clarify central conceptual and empirical challenges confronting the field. Our commentary provides a summary of and critical (...) response to each of the papers. (shrink)
Cognitivecontrol refers to the regulation of mental activity to support flexible cognition across different domains. Cragg and Nation (2010) propose that the development of cognitivecontrol in children parallels the development of language abilities, particularly inner speech. We suggest that children’s late development of cognitivecontrol also mirrors their limited ability to revise misinterpretations of sentence meaning. Moreover, we argue that for certain tasks, a tradeoff between bottom-up (data-driven) and top-down (rule-based) thinking may (...) actually benefit performance in both children and adults. Specifically, we propose that a lack of cognitivecontrol may promote important aspects of cognitive development, like language acquisition and creativity. (shrink)
Cognitivecontrol is not only componential, but those components may interact in complicated ways in the service of cognitivecontrol tasks. This complexity poses a challenge for developing an ontological description, because the mapping may not be direct between our task descriptions and true component differences reflected in indicators. To illustrate this point, I discuss two examples: (a) the relationship between adaptive gating and working memory and (b) the recent evidence for a control hierarchy. From (...) these examples, I argue that an ontological program must simultaneously seek to identify component processes and their interactions within a broader processing architecture. (shrink)
In this commentary, I will argue that the componential and emergent views of cognitivecontrol as defined by Cooper (2010) do not necessarily oppose each other, and I will try to make a case for their interdependence. First, I will use the construct of cognitive inhibition—one of the main componential control functions mentioned in the target articles—to illustrate my line of reasoning. Then, I will comment on how some of the target articles, each from a different (...) perspective, bring arguments in favor of this integrative view. (shrink)
Recently, an associative learning account of cognitivecontrol has been suggested (Verguts & Notebaert, 2009). In this so-called adaptation by binding theory, Hebbian learning of stimulus–stimulus and stimulus–response associations is assumed to drive the adaptation of human behavior. In this study, we evaluated the validity of the adaptation-by-binding account for the case of implicit learning of regularities within a stimulus set (i.e., the frequency of specific unit digit combinations in a two-digit number magnitude comparison task) and their association (...) with a particular response. Our data indicated that participants indeed learned these regularities and adapted their behavior accordingly. In particular, influences of cognitivecontrol were even able to override the numerical distance effect—one of the most robust effects in numerical cognition research. Thus, the general cognitive processes involved in two-digit number magnitude comparison seem much more complex than previously assumed. Multi-digit number magnitude comparison may not be automatic and inflexible but influenced by processes of cognitivecontrol being highly adaptive to stimulus set properties and task demands on multiple levels. (shrink)
Allen Newell (1973) once observed that psychology researchers were playing “twenty questions with nature,” carving up human cognition into hundreds of individual phenomena but shying away from the difficult task of integrating these phenomena with unifying theories. We argue that research on cognitivecontrol has followed a similar path, and that the best approach toward unifying theories of cognitivecontrol is that proposed by Newell, namely developing theories in computational cognitive architectures. Threaded cognition, a recent (...) theory developed within the ACT-R cognitive architecture, offers promise as a unifying theory of cognitivecontrol that addresses multitasking phenomena for both laboratory and applied task domains. (shrink)
Search is a prerequisite for successful performance in a broad range of tasks ranging from making decisions between consumer goods to memory retrieval. How does aging impact search processes in such disparate situations? Aging is associated with structural and neuromodulatory brain changes that underlie cognitivecontrol processes, which in turn have been proposed as a domain-general mechanism controlling search in external environments as well as memory. We review the aging literature to evaluate the cognitivecontrol hypothesis (...) that suggests that age-related change in cognitivecontrol underlies age differences in both external and internal search. We also consider the limits of the cognitivecontrol hypothesis and propose additional mechanisms such as changes in strategy use and affect that may be necessary to understand how aging affects search. (shrink)
Dreyfus and Dreyfus’ influential phenomenological analysis of skill acquisition proposes that expert performance is guided by non-cognitive responses which are fast, effortless and apparently intuitive in nature. Although this model has been criticised for over-emphasising the role that intuition plays in facilitating skilled performance, it does recognise that on occasions a form of ‘detached deliberative rationality’ may be used by experts to improve their performance. However, Dreyfus and Dreyfus see no role for calculative problem solving or deliberation when performance (...) is going well. In the current paper, we draw on empirical evidence, insights from athletes, and phenomenological description to argue that ‘continuous improvement’ among experts is mediated by cognitivecontrol in three distinct sporting situations. We conclude by arguing that Sutton et al. Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology, 42, 78–103 ‘applying intelligence to the reflexes’ approach may help to elucidate the process by which expert performers achieve continuous improvement through analytical/mindful behaviour during training and competition. (shrink)
In this commentary, I focus on the difference between processes and representations and how this distinction relates to the question of what is controlled. Despite some views that task switching is a prototypical control process, the analysis concludes that task switching depends on the task goal representation and that control processes are there to prevent goal representations from disintegrating. Over time, these processes become obsolete, leaving behind a representation that automatically controls task performance. The distinction between processes and (...) representations relates to practice effects and automaticity and sheds light on what is meant by the phrase “automatic control.”. (shrink)
The capacity to control emotion is important for human adaptation. Questions about the neural bases of emotion regulation have recently taken on new importance, as functional imaging studies in humans have permitted direct investigation of control strategies that draw upon higher cognitive processes difficult to study in nonhumans. Such studies have examined (1) controlling attention to, and (2) cognitively changing the meaning of, emotionally evocative stimuli. These two forms of emotion regulation depend upon interactions between prefrontal and (...) cingulate control systems and cortical and subcortical emotion-generative systems. Taken together, the results suggest a functional architecture for the cognitivecontrol of emotion that dovetails with findings from other human and nonhuman research on emotion. (shrink)
The question of domain-specific versus domain-general processing is an ongoing source of inquiry surrounding cognitivecontrol. Using a comparative evolutionary approach, Stout (2010) proposed two components of cognitivecontrol: coordinating hierarchical action plans and social cognition. This article reports additional molecular and experimental evidence supporting a domain-general attentional process coordinating hierarchical action plans, with the earliest such control processing originating in the capacity of dynamic foraging behaviors—predating the vertebrate-invertebrate divergence (c. 700 million years ago). Further (...) discussion addresses evidence required for additional, domain-specific, cognitivecontrol processes, noting that proposed social processes may simply provide emotionally valenced representational information to the above hierarchical process. (shrink)
The human mind is extraordinary in its ability not merely to respond to events as they unfold but also to adapt its own operation in pursuit of its agenda. This ‘cognitivecontrol’ can be achieved through simple interactions among sensorimotor processes, and through interactions in which one sensorimotor process represents a property of another in an implicit, unconscious way. So why does the human mind also represent properties of cognitive processes in an explicit way, enabling us to (...) think and say ‘I’m sure’ or ‘I’m doubtful’? We suggest that ‘system 2 metacognition’ is for supra-personal cognitivecontrol. It allows metacognitive information to be broadcast, and thereby to coordinate the sensorimotor systems of two or more agents involved in a shared task. (shrink)
The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) has been the subject of intense interest as a locus of cognitivecontrol. Several computational models have been proposed to account for a range of effects, including error detection, conflict monitoring, error likelihood prediction, and numerous other effects observed with single-unit neurophysiology, fMRI, and lesion studies. Here, we review the state of computational models of cognitivecontrol and offer a new theoretical synthesis of the mPFC as signaling response–outcome predictions. This new (...) synthesis has two interacting components. The first component learns to predict the various possible outcomes of a planned action, and the second component detects discrepancies between the actual and intended responses; the detected discrepancies in turn update the outcome predictions. This single construct is consistent with a wide array of performance monitoring effects in mPFC and suggests a unifying account of the cognitive role of medial PFC in performance monitoring. (shrink)
One of the key challenges confronting cognitive science is to discover natural categories of cognitive function. Of special interest is the unity or diversity of cognitivecontrol mechanisms. Evolutionary history is an underutilized resource that, together with neuropsychological and neuroscientific evidence, can help to provide a biological ground for the fractionation of cognitivecontrol. Comparative evidence indicates that primate brain evolution has produced dissociable mechanisms for external action control and internal self-regulation, but that (...) most real-world behaviors rely on a combination of these. The archeological record further indicates the timing and context of distinctively human elaborations to these cognitivecontrol functions, including the gradual emergence of increasingly complex hierarchical action control. (shrink)
This commentary argues that theories of cognitivecontrol risk being incomplete unless they incorporate social/emotional factors. Social factors very likely played a critical role in the evolution of human cognitivecontrol abilities, and emotional states are the primary regulatory mechanisms of cognitivecontrol.
We discuss a recent approach to investigating cognitivecontrol, which has the potential to deal with some of the challenges inherent in this endeavour. In a model-based approach, the researcher deﬁnes a formal, computational model that performs the task at hand and whose performance matches that of a research participant. The internal variables in such a model might then be taken as proxies for latent variables computed in the brain. We discuss the potential advantages of such an approach (...) for the study of the neural underpinnings of cognitivecontrol and its pitfalls, and we make explicit the assumptions underlying the interpretation of data obtained using this approach. (shrink)
Recent research suggests that processing of irrelevant information can be modulated in a rapid online fashion by contextual information in the task environment depending on the usefulness of that information in different contexts. Congruency effects evoked by irrelevant stimulus attributes are smaller in contexts with high proportions of incongruent trials and larger in contexts with high proportions of congruent trials . The present study investigates these context-adaptation effects in a masked-priming paradigm. Context-specific adaptation effects transfer to stimulus identities that are (...) equiprobale in all contexts – an observation that renders explanations in terms of event-learning processes unlikely. Yet, context-specific effects vanished when the irrelevant information remained unconscious. The results suggest that context-specific adaptation of congruency effects reflect cognitivecontrol operations that alter the processing of irrelevant information depending on the experienced utility of that information for action control. (shrink)
Emotion is widely agreed to have two dimensions, valence and arousal. Few studies have explored the effect of emotion on conflict adaptation by considering both of these, which could have dissociate influence. The present study aimed to fill the gap as to whether emotional valence and arousal would exert dissociable influence on conflict adaptation. In the experiments, we included positive, neutral, and negative conditions, with comparable arousal between positive and negative conditions. Both positive and negative conditions have higher arousal than (...) neutral ones. In Experiment 1, by using a two-colour-word Flanker task, we found that conflict adaptation was enhanced in both positive and negative contexts compared to a neutral context. Furthermore, this effect still existed when controlling stimulus–response repetitions in Experiment 2, which used a four-colour-word Flanker task. The findings suggest emotional arousal enhances conflict adaptation, regardless of emotional valence. Thus, future studies should consider emotional arousal when studying the effect of emotion on conflict adaptation. Moreover, the unique role of the emotional context in conflict-driven cognitivecontrol is emphasised. (shrink)
The article presents two studies based on the assumption that the effectiveness of cognitivecontrol depends on the subject’s type of emotional state. Inhibitory control is taken into account, as the basic determinant of the antisaccade reactions and the emotional Stroop effect. The studies deal with differentiation of emotions on the basis of their origin: automatic vs. reflective. According to the main assumption, automatic emotions are diffusive, and decrease the effectiveness of cognitivecontrol. The hypothesis (...) predicted that performance level of both the Antisaccade Task and the Emotional Stroop Test would be lower in the automaticemotion eliciting condition than in the reflective-emotion eliciting condition. In two experimental studies, positive and negative emotions were elicited. The results support the predictions, regardless of the valence of emotions. (shrink)
Pickering & Garrod's (P&G's) integrated model of production and comprehension includes no explicit role for nonlinguistic cognitive processes. Yet, how domain-general cognitive functions contribute to language processing has become clearer with well-specified theories and supporting data. We therefore believe that their account can benefit by incorporating functions like working memory and cognitivecontrol into a unified model of language processing.
The cost of incongruent stimuli is reduced when conflict is expected. This series of experiments tested whether this improved performance is due to repetition priming or to enhanced cognitivecontrol. Using a paradigm in which Word and Number Stroop alternated every trial, Experiment 1 assessed dynamic trial-to-trial changes. Incongruent trials led to task-specific reduction of conflict (trial n ϩ 2) without cross-task modulation (trial n ϩ 1), but this was fully explained by repetition priming. In contrast, an increased (...) ratio of incongruent words did lead to sustained task-specific enhancement, above and beyond.. (shrink)
The goal of this research is to understand the interaction of implicit and explicit psychological processes in dealing with emotional distractions and meta-cognitivecontrol of such distractions. The questions are how emotional and meta-cognitive processes can be separated into implicit and explicit components, and how such a separation can be utilized to improve self-regulation of emotion, which can have significant theoretical and practical implications.
ABSTRACTBesides physiological, behavioural, and affective effects, romantic love also has cognitive effects. In this study, we tested whether individual differences in infatuation and/or attachment level predict impaired interference control even in the absence of a love booster procedure, and whether individual differences in attachment level predict reduced adaptive cognitivecontrol as measured by conflict adaptation and post-error slowing. Eighty-three young adults who had recently fallen in love completed a Stroop-like task, which yielded reliable indices of interference (...)control and adaptive cognitivecontrol. We did not observe the predicted negative association between infatuation or attachment level and interference control. It might be that reduced interference control with love only happens when people are actively thinking about their beloved. In addition, we observed only weak evidence for the prediction t... (shrink)
Chica and Bartolemeo : The proportion valid effect in covert orienting: Strategic control or implicit learning? Consciousness and Cognition,19, 443–444.) agree that our results . The proportion valid effect in covert orienting: Strategic control or implicit learning? Consciousness and Cognition,19, 432–442.) are consistent with an implicit learning account of the proportion valid effect. Nevertheless, they raise two general issues that an explicit strategy might be operative in other contexts and that orienting in response to implicit knowledge is endogenous. (...) In our response, we address each of these issues and further discuss the concepts of endogenous orienting and cognitivecontrol. (shrink)
Cognitivecontrol constrains retrieval processing and so restricts what comes to mind as input to the attribution system. We review evidence that older adults, patients with Alzheimer's disease, and people with traumatic brain injury exert less cognitivecontrol during retrieval, and so are susceptible to memory misattributions in the form of dramatic levels of false remembering.
In this study, we investigated whether control of the conflict between incongruent heuristic and analytical answer options in a reasoning task is modulated by the presence of conflict on previous trials. In two experiments, we found that the incongruency of the previous trial has a significant effect on the control exhibited on the current trial. Our data also showed that this adaptation effect is modulated by the incongruency of the previous series of trials. These results demonstrate the same (...)control adaptation effects for a reasoning task as observed for standard response interference tasks. Coinciding control effects in the two research areas suggest that cognitivecontrol might be an important mechanism underlying performance on reasoning tasks. Based on these results we argue that the study of cognitivecontrol in reasoning could potentially facilitate the refinement of empirical predictions and provide a new tool to explore the exertion of top-down control in human thinking. (shrink)
This study focuses on the question of neural differences in the evaluation of hypothetical and real payoffs. Hypothetical payoffs are not incentive compatible and are, therefore, not considered to be reliable. Behavioral differences between the evaluation of hypothetical and real payoffs can be attributed to this incentive effect. Because real payoff mechanisms are not always applicable in the field, it is necessary to know in which way both types of payoffs affect evaluation processes. In order to delineate the cognitive (...) processes related to hypothetical bias, we conducted a within-subject EEG experiment with hypothetical and real payoffs. A certainty equivalent elicitation method for measuring risk attitudes was performed in which subjects had to indicate whether they preferred playing a lottery or receiving a sure payoff instead. At the behavioral level, subjects were more risk averse for real payoff choices, confirming a hypothetical bias. EEG-derived event-related potentials provide evidence that the processes underlying these differences in evaluations differ. A higher N2 component for hypothetical payoffs revealed increased cognitivecontrol for hypothetical decisions. These neuronal underpinnings indicate additional evaluation processes in hypothetical choice paradigms, which can explain the shift in risk attitude toward the expected value of a lottery. (shrink)
Cognition is context-sensitive, as the same sensory information is processed differently depending on its context (e.g., on its probabilistic association with goal-directed actions and their outcomes). Despite this, the concept of context in studies of higher-order cognitive processes, like cognitivecontrol, is often simplified to nominal stimulus categories (like a target vs. distractor). Here we propose that quantifying contextual information to model cognitive demands is (1) fruitful as it can provide novel insight into the nature of (...)cognitivecontrol, (2) accessible as simple probability models offer a tool for quantifying context and (3) analytically useful as a fine-grained quantification of context can be entered into more complex models as regressors that allow a direct way of appropriately exploring many of the defining tenants of cognitivecontrol (e.g., rapidly changing trial-by-trial neural dynamics). Here, we briefly describe the logic of using context-sensitive measures of cognitivecontrol and highlight recent studies from this approach using simple information theory metrics. (shrink)
The paper delineates a study of executive functions, construed as procedural working memory, from a motivational perspective. Since WM theories and motivation theories are both concerned with purposive activity, the role of implicit evaluations observed in goal pursuit can be anticipated to arise also in the context of cognitivecontrol, e.g., during the performance of the Stroop task. The role of positive and negative affect in goal pursuit consists in controlling attention resources according to the goal and situational (...) requirements. Positive affect serves to maintain goals and means in the scope of attention, whereas negative affect activates the inhibition of non-functional contents, e.g., distractors and irrelevant objects. Adaptation to conflict proceeds via sequential triggering of negative and positive affect. Moreover, it was demonstrated that the focus on action or reflection changes the scope of contents subjected to implicit control. Therefore, I suggest that the motivational system, to a large extent, plays the role of the Central Executive. The paper opens a discussion and proposes studies on affective mechanisms of cognitivecontrol. (shrink)
The role of cognitivecontrol mechanisms in reducing interference from emotionally salient distractors was investigated. In two experiments, participants performed a flanker task in which target-distractor affective compatibility and cognitive load were manipulated. Differently from past studies, targets and distractors were presented at separate spatial locations and cognitive load was not domain-specific. In Experiment 1, words and faces, were used respectively as targets and distractors, whereas in Experiment 2, both targets and distractors were faces. Findings showed (...) interference from distractor processing only when cognitive load was high. The present findings indicate that, when targets and distractors are presented at different spatial locations, cognitivecontrol mechanisms are involved in preventing interference from positive or negative distractors. The role of stimulus valence and type is also discussed with regard to different patterns of interference observed. (shrink)
This article clarifies three principles that should guide the development of any cognitive ontology. First, that an adequate cognitive ontology depends essentially on an adequate task ontology; second, that the goal of developing a cognitive ontology is independent of the goal of finding neural implementations of the processes referred to in the ontology; and third, that cognitive ontologies are neutral regarding the metaphysical relationship between cognitive and neural processes.
The primrose path and prisoner's dilemma paradigms may require cognitive (executive) control: The active maintenance of context representations in lateral prefrontal cortex to provide top-down support for specific behaviors in the face of short delays or stronger response tendencies. This perspective suggests further tests of whether altruism is a type of self-control, including brain imaging, induced affect, and dual-task studies.
In October 2011, the “2nd European Network for Cognitive Systems, Robotics and Interaction”, EUCogII, held its meeting in Groningen on “Autonomous activity in real-world environments”, organized by Tjeerd Andringa and myself. This is a brief personal report on why we thought autonomy in real-world environments is central for cognitive systems research and what I think I learned about it. --- The theses that crystallized are that a) autonomy is a relative property and a matter of degree, b) increasing (...) autonomy of an artificial system from its makers and users is a necessary feature of increasingly intelligent systems that can deal with the real-world and c) more such autonomy means less control but at the same time improved interaction with the system. (shrink)