Conflict Adaptation between Stroop and Sentence Comprehension: An Eye Tracking Study Open Access
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Domain-general accounts of executive function posit that cognitive control mechanisms can extend across modules of the brain. Cognitive control mechanisms are relevant to the resolution of conflict, which is the temporary ambiguity caused by different cues giving rise to competing representations. Such temporary misrepresentations exist during Stroop tasks and during some sentence comprehension tasks. This thesis demonstrates a causal connection between cognitive control and syntactic-semantic conflict sentences. Specifically, we found an effect of previous Stroop trial type on sentences containing conflict. On-line eye movement data during sentence comprehension of syntactic-semantic conflict sentences were influenced by control processes activated during the previous Stroop trial only when the Stroop trial also contained conflict. During comprehension of these sentences, looks to the semantically plausible but incorrect image were suppressed. This overlap in conflict processing and control mechanisms between tasks is known as conflict adaptation. We also found a significant correlation between baseline Stroop performance and the amount of adaptation that participants exhibited. Preliminary results indicate that individual differences in performance may be the result of the extent to which a participant relies on semantic cues. Our results show that the activation of cognitive control mechanisms during a previous trial can aid sentence comprehension on a subsequent trial, supporting domain-general accounts of executive functioning.