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Learning where to be flexible : using environmental cues to regulate cognitive control

Shengjie Xu (UGent) , Jonas Simoens (UGent) , Tom Verguts (UGent) and Senne Braem (UGent)
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Abstract
Cognitive flexibility refers to a mental state that allows efficient switching between tasks. While deciding to be flexible is often ascribed to a strategic resource-intensive executive process, people may also simply use their environment to trigger different states of cognitive flexibility. We developed a paradigm where participants were exposed to two environments with different task-switching probabilities, followed by a probe phase to test the impact of environmental cues. Our results show that people were more efficient at switching in a high-switch environment. Critically, we observe environment-specific triggering of cognitive flexibility after a 4-day training period (Experiment 2, N = 51), but not after a 1-day training period (Experiment 1, N = 52). Together, these findings suggest that people can associate the need for cognitive flexibility with their environment, providing an environmental triggering mechanism for cognitive control.
Keywords
Developmental Neuroscience, General Psychology, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, cognitive flexibility, cognitive control, context, task-switching, associative learning, HIERARCHICAL CONTROL, MEMORY, SLEEP, MODULATION, STABILITY, SELECTION, CORTEX, REWARD

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MLA
Xu, Shengjie, et al. “Learning Where to Be Flexible : Using Environmental Cues to Regulate Cognitive Control.” JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL, vol. 153, no. 2, 2024, pp. 328–38, doi:10.1037/xge0001488.
APA
Xu, S., Simoens, J., Verguts, T., & Braem, S. (2024). Learning where to be flexible : using environmental cues to regulate cognitive control. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL, 153(2), 328–338. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0001488
Chicago author-date
Xu, Shengjie, Jonas Simoens, Tom Verguts, and Senne Braem. 2024. “Learning Where to Be Flexible : Using Environmental Cues to Regulate Cognitive Control.” JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL 153 (2): 328–38. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0001488.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Xu, Shengjie, Jonas Simoens, Tom Verguts, and Senne Braem. 2024. “Learning Where to Be Flexible : Using Environmental Cues to Regulate Cognitive Control.” JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL 153 (2): 328–338. doi:10.1037/xge0001488.
Vancouver
1.
Xu S, Simoens J, Verguts T, Braem S. Learning where to be flexible : using environmental cues to regulate cognitive control. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL. 2024;153(2):328–38.
IEEE
[1]
S. Xu, J. Simoens, T. Verguts, and S. Braem, “Learning where to be flexible : using environmental cues to regulate cognitive control,” JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL, vol. 153, no. 2, pp. 328–338, 2024.
@article{01HEJGGCXKNH7FHK8VER0ED9R1,
  abstract     = {{Cognitive flexibility refers to a mental state that allows efficient switching between tasks. While deciding to be flexible is often ascribed to a strategic resource-intensive executive process, people may also simply use their environment to trigger different states of cognitive flexibility. We developed a paradigm where participants were exposed to two environments with different task-switching probabilities, followed by a probe phase to test the impact of environmental cues. Our results show that people were more efficient at switching in a high-switch environment. Critically, we observe environment-specific triggering of cognitive flexibility after a 4-day training period (Experiment 2, N = 51), but not after a 1-day training period (Experiment 1, N = 52). Together, these findings suggest that people can associate the need for cognitive flexibility with their environment, providing an environmental triggering mechanism for cognitive control.}},
  author       = {{Xu, Shengjie and Simoens, Jonas and Verguts, Tom and Braem, Senne}},
  issn         = {{0096-3445}},
  journal      = {{JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY-GENERAL}},
  keywords     = {{Developmental Neuroscience,General Psychology,Experimental and Cognitive Psychology,cognitive flexibility,cognitive control,context,task-switching,associative learning,HIERARCHICAL CONTROL,MEMORY,SLEEP,MODULATION,STABILITY,SELECTION,CORTEX,REWARD}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{2}},
  pages        = {{328--338}},
  title        = {{Learning where to be flexible : using environmental cues to regulate cognitive control}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1037/xge0001488}},
  volume       = {{153}},
  year         = {{2024}},
}

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