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Working paper

Condensation task as an experimental model for studying individual differences in cognitive control

Nikita A. Novikov, Dmitri V. Bryzgalov, Anna A. Lapina, Boris V. Chernyshev.
Successful performance in complex tasks depends upon the functioning of the cognitive control system involving the maintenance of sustained attention, retention and activation of task rules, as well as the inhibition of preliminary responses. Failure of any of these functions can lead to performance errors. In this study, we investigated behavioral data obtained from participants performing the auditory condensation task, which is highly demanding of the level of cognitive control but does not require participants to inhibit or override any prepotent automatic responses. We identified pre-error speeding and error slowing, while post-error slowing was not evident. Our results suggest that there are three factors contributing to the variability within the behavioral measures obtained. The first factor is related to the overall response latency, the second to the main individual mechanism of performance errors, and the third to the subject’s ability to increase motor threshold in the event of uncertainty and choice ambiguity. The data obtained evidence that the auditory condensation task is a promising model for studying cognitive control.