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Out with the Old and in with the New--Is Backward Inhibition a Domain-Specific Process?

Foti F, Sdoia S, Menghini D, Vicari S, Petrosini L, Ferlazzo F - PLoS ONE (2015)

Bottom Line: Despite the fact that BI effects do impact performance on everyday life activities, up to now it is still not clear whether the BI represents an amodal and material-independent process or whether it interacts with the task material.Results showed that individuals with WS exhibited a normal BI effect during verbal task-switching, but a clear deficit during visuo-spatial task-switching.Overall, our findings demonstrating that the BI is a material-specific process have important implications for theoretical models of cognitive control and its architecture.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University "Sapienza" of Rome, Rome, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Effective task switching is supported by the inhibition of the just executed task, so that potential interference from previously executed tasks is adaptively counteracted. This inhibitory mechanism, named Backward Inhibition (BI), has been inferred from the finding that switching back to a recently executed task (A-B-A task sequence) is harder than switching back to a less recently executed task (C-B-A task sequence). Despite the fact that BI effects do impact performance on everyday life activities, up to now it is still not clear whether the BI represents an amodal and material-independent process or whether it interacts with the task material. To address this issue, a group of individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) characterized by specific difficulties in maintaining and processing visuo-spatial, but not verbal, information, and a mental age- and gender-matched group of typically developing (TD) children were subjected to three task-switching experiments requiring verbal or visuo-spatial material to be processed. Results showed that individuals with WS exhibited a normal BI effect during verbal task-switching, but a clear deficit during visuo-spatial task-switching. Overall, our findings demonstrating that the BI is a material-specific process have important implications for theoretical models of cognitive control and its architecture.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

Performances of WS and TD participants in the Visuo-Spatial Task-Switching in an ecological environment.Number of sequences of locations (ABA and CBA) that the participants spontaneously explored. Data are expressed as unweighted mean ± SEM. The asterisks indicate the significance level of the post-hoc comparisons between groups (** p< .005).
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pone.0142613.g006: Performances of WS and TD participants in the Visuo-Spatial Task-Switching in an ecological environment.Number of sequences of locations (ABA and CBA) that the participants spontaneously explored. Data are expressed as unweighted mean ± SEM. The asterisks indicate the significance level of the post-hoc comparisons between groups (** p< .005).

Mentions: The number of trials to criterion was similar between the WS and TD groups (WS = 10.84 ± 1.58; TD = 10.92 ± 1.36), indicating that they had the same level of performance [one-way ANCOVA (covariates: MA, IQ, CA): F(1, 21) = .16, p = .70, ηP2 = .007]. A two-way ANCOVA (Group x Sequence; covariates: MA, IQ, CA) on the number of CBA and ABA sequences revealed a not significant group effect [F(1, 21) = 1.61, p = .22, ηP2 = .07], whereas the sequence effect [F(1, 24) = 10.49, p = .004, ηP2 = .30] and interaction [F(1, 24) = 4.94, p = .036, ηP2 = .17] were significant. Post-hoc comparisons on interaction revealed that the TD participants generated more CBA than ABA sequences (p = .002). Conversely, participants with WS generated almost the same number of CBA and ABA sequences (p = .75) (Fig 6). These results demonstrate that only in TD the pattern of exploration was driven primarily by the inhibition of the previously explored location (i.e., BI effect) and not by the target location being varied (Experiment 2) or fixed (Experiment 3). Results also confirm that participants with WS do not show visuo-spatial BI effects.


Out with the Old and in with the New--Is Backward Inhibition a Domain-Specific Process?

Foti F, Sdoia S, Menghini D, Vicari S, Petrosini L, Ferlazzo F - PLoS ONE (2015)

Performances of WS and TD participants in the Visuo-Spatial Task-Switching in an ecological environment.Number of sequences of locations (ABA and CBA) that the participants spontaneously explored. Data are expressed as unweighted mean ± SEM. The asterisks indicate the significance level of the post-hoc comparisons between groups (** p< .005).
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4643988&req=5

pone.0142613.g006: Performances of WS and TD participants in the Visuo-Spatial Task-Switching in an ecological environment.Number of sequences of locations (ABA and CBA) that the participants spontaneously explored. Data are expressed as unweighted mean ± SEM. The asterisks indicate the significance level of the post-hoc comparisons between groups (** p< .005).
Mentions: The number of trials to criterion was similar between the WS and TD groups (WS = 10.84 ± 1.58; TD = 10.92 ± 1.36), indicating that they had the same level of performance [one-way ANCOVA (covariates: MA, IQ, CA): F(1, 21) = .16, p = .70, ηP2 = .007]. A two-way ANCOVA (Group x Sequence; covariates: MA, IQ, CA) on the number of CBA and ABA sequences revealed a not significant group effect [F(1, 21) = 1.61, p = .22, ηP2 = .07], whereas the sequence effect [F(1, 24) = 10.49, p = .004, ηP2 = .30] and interaction [F(1, 24) = 4.94, p = .036, ηP2 = .17] were significant. Post-hoc comparisons on interaction revealed that the TD participants generated more CBA than ABA sequences (p = .002). Conversely, participants with WS generated almost the same number of CBA and ABA sequences (p = .75) (Fig 6). These results demonstrate that only in TD the pattern of exploration was driven primarily by the inhibition of the previously explored location (i.e., BI effect) and not by the target location being varied (Experiment 2) or fixed (Experiment 3). Results also confirm that participants with WS do not show visuo-spatial BI effects.

Bottom Line: Despite the fact that BI effects do impact performance on everyday life activities, up to now it is still not clear whether the BI represents an amodal and material-independent process or whether it interacts with the task material.Results showed that individuals with WS exhibited a normal BI effect during verbal task-switching, but a clear deficit during visuo-spatial task-switching.Overall, our findings demonstrating that the BI is a material-specific process have important implications for theoretical models of cognitive control and its architecture.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology, University "Sapienza" of Rome, Rome, Italy.

ABSTRACT
Effective task switching is supported by the inhibition of the just executed task, so that potential interference from previously executed tasks is adaptively counteracted. This inhibitory mechanism, named Backward Inhibition (BI), has been inferred from the finding that switching back to a recently executed task (A-B-A task sequence) is harder than switching back to a less recently executed task (C-B-A task sequence). Despite the fact that BI effects do impact performance on everyday life activities, up to now it is still not clear whether the BI represents an amodal and material-independent process or whether it interacts with the task material. To address this issue, a group of individuals with Williams syndrome (WS) characterized by specific difficulties in maintaining and processing visuo-spatial, but not verbal, information, and a mental age- and gender-matched group of typically developing (TD) children were subjected to three task-switching experiments requiring verbal or visuo-spatial material to be processed. Results showed that individuals with WS exhibited a normal BI effect during verbal task-switching, but a clear deficit during visuo-spatial task-switching. Overall, our findings demonstrating that the BI is a material-specific process have important implications for theoretical models of cognitive control and its architecture.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus