Task-switching performance with 1:1 and 2:1 cue-task mappings: not so different after all

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. 2011 Mar;37(2):405-15. doi: 10.1037/a0021967.


When task-switching studies use the task-cuing procedure with a 1:1 cue-task mapping, task switching and cue switching are confounded, which is problematic for interpreting switch costs. The use of a 2:1 cue-task mapping is a potential solution to this problem, but it is possible that introducing more cues may also introduce marked changes in task-switching performance. In 5 experiments involving 160 subjects, the authors compared performance with 1:1 and 2:1 mappings across several methodological changes. Differences in switch costs between mappings were small and, in most analyses, nonsignificant. In all experiments, both mappings yielded significant reductions in switch cost across cue-target interval, and there were significant cue-switching effects with the 2:1 mapping. A model of cue encoding fit the data from both mappings about equally well. Overall, task-switching performance was more similar than it was different between mappings, leading the authors to suggest that the use of a 2:1 mapping is a viable solution to the problem associated with a 1:1 mapping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Awareness*
  • Cues*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reaction Time / radiation effects
  • Statistics as Topic