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Mechanisms of cognitive control: Contributions from working memory and inhibition to task switching

Posted on:2011-03-02Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:University of Colorado at BoulderCandidate:Blackwell, Katharine AFull Text:PDF
We constantly use cognitive control to regulate our behavior, but how we exert that control is debated. Many researchers claim that inhibition is critical, but others argue that "inhibition" encompasses multiple mechanisms (e.g., response inhibition, interference control), and others argue that inhibition can be explained with working memory. The relationships of working memory, response inhibition, and interference control to task switching were investigated using an individual differences approach with six-year-old children, who typically switch or perseverate categorically on task switching measures. Results from three experiments indicate that switchers have better working memories and interference control, but have worse response inhibition. This partially supports both working memory and multiple inhibition accounts: Working memory may play a role in task switching, but cannot wholly explain inhibition; further, response inhibition and interference control may be separate mechanisms, but the distinctions between them must be elaborated. In addition, these results demonstrate the importance of investigating cognition in children, which can identify mechanisms masked by other abilities in adults.
Keywords/Search Tags:Working memory, Inhibition, Mechanisms, Task switching, Interference control
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