How long-lasting is the post-conflict slowing after incongruent trials? Evidence from the Stroop, Simon, and flanker tasks

Atten Percept Psychophys. 2017 Oct;79(7):1945-1967. doi: 10.3758/s13414-017-1348-z.


The purpose of the present study was to determine how long-lasting the post-conflict slowing following incongruent stimuli is. In previous research, incongruent stimuli have been used to induce a conflict because they have relevant features for two different response alternatives. So far, the post-conflict slowing following incongruent stimuli has mainly been assessed up to one trial. In the first two experiments, we assessed the persistence of the post-conflict slowing across several trials. To this end, we presented a few incongruent stimuli among non-conflict stimuli. The results showed a consistent slowing for the first few trials immediately following the incongruent trials. In addition, a sporadic slowing was still found on later trials. In two subsequent experiments, we investigated to what extent the infrequency of incongruent trials - rather than their conflict - induced this slowing. To determine this, we used the same design as in the first two experiments, but we presented non-conflict stimuli as infrequent stimuli. The results showed a slowing on one subsequent trial, ruling out the possibility that the post-conflict slowing following incongruent trials was only caused by infrequency. Together, the findings of the present study indicate that the conflict induced by incongruent trials can have a longer lasting impact on subsequent trials than previously thought.

Keywords: Bivalency effect; Cognitive control; Conflict adaptation; Orienting response; Post-conflict slowing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Cues
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult