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This article is part of the Research Topic Inhibition in the process of feature binding

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 02 January 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00552

When the ignored gets bound: sequential effects in the flanker task

  • Birkbeck College, University of London, London, UK

Recent research on attentional control processes in the Eriksen flanker task has focused on the so-called congruency sequence effect a.k.a. the Gratton effect, which is the observation of a smaller flanker interference effect after incongruent than after congruent trials. There is growing support for the view that in this paradigm, the congruency sequence effect is due to repetition of the target or response across trials. Here, results from two experiments are presented that separate the contributions of target, flanker, and response repetition. The results suggest that neither response repetition alone nor conflict is necessary to produce the effect. Instead, the data reveal that only flanker repetition is sufficient to produce congruency sequence effects. In other words, information that is associated with a response irrespective whether it is relevant for the current trial is bound to response representations. An account is presented in which the fleeting event files are the activated part of the task set in which flankers, targets, and response representations are associatively linked and updated through conflict-modulated reinforcement learning.

Keywords: flanker task, cognitive control, conflict monitoring, sequential dependencies, associative learning, episodic binding

Citation: Davelaar EJ (2013) When the ignored gets bound: sequential effects in the flanker task. Front. Psychology 3:552. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00552

Received: 29 December 2011; Accepted: 23 November 2012;
Published online: 02 January 2013.

Edited by:

Snehlata Jaswal, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India

Reviewed by:

Bernhard Hommel, Leiden University, Netherlands
Elke Lange, University of Potsdam, Germany

Copyright: © 2013 Davelaar. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Eddy J. Davelaar, Department of Psychological Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, WC1E 7HX London, UK. e-mail: eddy.davelaar@gmail.com