Task Switching

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Edited by: Iring Koch, Marcel Brass

Series: Zeitschrift für Psychologie - Volume 15

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Online journal issue still available here

Insights on the cognitive processes behind the flexibility of human behavior that enables us to adapt to differing demands and changing circumstances

Human beings perform thousands of tasks each day, often in close succession or interleaved with each other, and "task switching" has become a buzz word. The precondition for calling something a task is the existence of an intention to perform it, in contrast to, e.g., producing unintended motor sequences. The very idea of task switching implies that the flexibility of human behavior requires cognitive control processes that can "re-configure" the task set (taken to broadly refer a specific configuration of representational elements and processing operations) in order to adapt to changing intentions, respond to novel or unexpected circumstances, and deal with problem solving situations. Understanding the functional mechanisms underlying cognitive control of task sets is therefore the holy grail of cognitive psychology - coveted but not easily attainable. The aim of this compilation is to provide both state-of-the art focused reviews on currently intensely debated topics and empirical contributions on outstanding current issues in task switching research.

Topics covered include:

  • The role of cue processing in task switching
  • Task switching methodology
  • Episodic memory processes involved in cognitive control
  • Response inhibition in task switching
  • The processing of task-irrelevant stimuli
  • The multitasking mind

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