The adaptive regulation of cognitive control in dual-task performance (completed)

The coordination of the simultaneous performance of two tasks is a prime example of the adaptive regulation of cognitive control within a stability-flexibility dilemma. The flexible adjustment of control realizes the coordination between shielding the prioritized task processing on the one hand and shifting processing between tasks on the other hand. But how does an agent know how much task shielding is appropriate for optimum dual-task performance? Should tasks be performed more serially (one at a time) or more parallel (simultaneously)? To date, surprisingly little is known about the cognitive mechanisms that determine the engagement or disengagement of cognitive control in dual-task coordination. The proposed project builds on the assumption that control engagement is determined on the basis of situation-dependend context information (e.g., statistical variations in control requirements). Prior work of the PI has shown that such context-dependent control states can be primed and activated and determine when and how much control (e.g., T1 shielding) is applied. Yet, at the same time, it remains completely unclear by which cognitive mechanisms the context-sensitive adjustment of control is triggered. Therefore, the proposed project aims at investigating and identifying the cognitive mechanisms that enable (1) context-specific adjustments of T1 shielding in dual-task performance and (2) context-specific adjustments of T1-T2 component switching, both of which are fundamental control functions predicting the “quality” of dual-task performance. Furthermore, (3) it will be tested whether modulations in the flexible engagement/disengagement of cognitive control in behavioral measures of dual-task performance will be mirrored by modulations of the neural activity in the according cognitive control network.