Two measures of task-specific inhibition

Duncan E Astle, Georgina M Jackson, Rachel Swainson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Inhibition has been implicated as an important mechanism for task-set control, ensuring the efficient selection of the to-be-performed task over alternative possibilities. Across three experiments we demonstrated the effects of two potentially different types of task inhibition. The first is the inhibition of a task that concurrently affords an incongruent response, which is labelled dimension inhibition (Goschke, 2000). Using targets that afford three tasks, we demonstrated that this only occurs when a single alternative task affords an incongruent response, with the inhibition being specific to that task. The second type of inhibition that we observed was backwards inhibition—the suppression of a recently abandoned task-set (Mayr & Keele, 2000). Unlike dimension inhibition, backwards inhibition was not triggered by the response incongruence of the unperformed tasks, or even whether the target afforded responses via the unperformed tasks. These two purported types of inhibition did not co-occur, and neither did the factors of response congruence and whether that task was recently abandoned interact. We therefore suggest that task-specific inhibition can be applied/triggered differently depending upon the paradigm, perhaps depending upon the extent to which alternative tasks, and therefore potentially other responses, are triggered by the target.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-251
Number of pages19
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. A, Human Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • task switching
  • backwards inhibition
  • task-set control


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