Component processes underlying voluntary task selection: Separable contributions of task-set inertia and reconfiguration.
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Most theories describing the cognitive processes underlying task switching allow for contributions of active task-set reconfiguration and task set inertia. Manipulations of the Cue-to-Stimulus-Interval (CSI) are generally thought to influence task set reconfiguration, while Response-to-Cue (RCI) manipulations are thought to influence task set inertia. Together, these intervals compose the Response-to-Stimulus (RSI) interval. However, these theories do not adequately account for voluntary task switching, because a participant can theoretically prepare for an upcoming trial at any point. We used drift diffusion models to examine the contributions of reconfiguration and task set inertia to performance in single- and double-registrant-registrant voluntary task switching. In both paradigms, RSI length moderated nondecision time, suggesting both switch-specific and general preparation prior to cue presentation. In only the double-registrant registrant paradigm, RSI length additionally moderated task set inertia and CSI length affected general (but not switch-specific) preparation. The effects of cue timing (CSI length) depended upon required response to the cue. Future work should attempt to corroborate our findings regarding switch-specific and general preparation effects of interval lengths using EEG.