Psychological Research

, Volume 83, Issue 5, pp 1007–1019 | Cite as

Response–cue interval effects in extended-runs task switching: memory, or monitoring?

  • Erik M. AltmannEmail author
Original Article


This study investigated effects of manipulating the response–cue interval (RCI) in the extended-runs task-switching procedure. In this procedure, a task cue is presented at the start of a run of trials and then withdrawn, such that the task has to be stored in memory to guide performance until the next task cue is presented. The effects of the RCI manipulation were not as predicted by an existing model of memory processes in task switching (Altmann and Gray, Psychol Rev 115:602–639, 2008), suggesting that either the model is incorrect or the RCI manipulation did not have the intended effect. The manipulation did produce a theoretically meaningful pattern, in the form of a main effect on response time that was not accompanied by a similar effect on the error rate. This pattern, which replicated across two experiments, is interpreted here in terms of a process that monitors for the next task cue, with a longer RCI acting as a stronger signal that a cue is about to appear. The results have implications for the human factors of dynamic task environments in which critical events occur unpredictably.



The author thanks the manuscript reviewers for their careful reading and helpful suggestions for improvement. This work was funded by the Office of Naval Research, Grants N000140310063 and N000141612841.

Compliance with ethical standards


This research was funded by Grants N000140310063 and N000141612841 from the US Office of Naval Research.

Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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