Conflict adaptation in time: foreperiods as contextual cues for attentional adjustment

Psychon Bull Rev. 2011 Oct;18(5):910-6. doi: 10.3758/s13423-011-0119-4.


Interference evoked by distractor stimulus information, such as flankers in the Eriksen task, is reduced when the proportion of conflicting stimuli is increased. This modulation is sensitive to contextual cues such as stimulus location or color, suggesting attentional adjustment to conflict contingencies on the basis of context information. In the present study, we explored whether conflict adjustment is modulated by temporal variation of conflict likelihood. To this end, we associated low and high proportions of conflict stimuli with foreperiods of different lengths. Flanker interference was higher with foreperiods associated with low conflict proportions, suggesting that participants use the foreperiod as a contextual cue for attentional adjustment. We conjecture that participants initially adopt the strategy useful for conflict contingencies associated with short foreperiods, and then readjust during the trial, in the absence of any additional exogenous cue, when the imperative stimulus has not occurred during a certain time interval.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Cues
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult