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How dynamic is interhemispheric interaction? Effects of task switching on the across-hemisphere advantage.


Interaction between the cerebral hemispheres may allow both hemispheres to contribute their processing resources in order to cope efficiently with complex tasks [Banich, M. (1998). The missing link: the role of interhemispheric interaction in attentional processing. Brain and Cognition, 36, 128-157]. The current study investigated whether the benefits of interhemispheric interaction arise because of top-down knowledge about the task built up over the course of a block of trials or because of the processing demands present in a single trial. Participants performed a less computationally complex physical identity task and a more complex adding task on within-visual field and across-visual field trials. Task differences in interhemispheric interaction were compared between the blocked and mixed conditions to investigate whether frequent task switches altered the pattern of interhemispheric resource recruitment. A similar interaction between task difficulty and trial type (across- or within-visual field presentation) was obtained for both the blocked and mixed conditions. The degree of task-dependency of interhemispheric interaction was not altered in the mixed condition. This finding supports the view that interhemispheric interaction becomes beneficial in response to the processing demands of an individual trial rather than as a result of top-down task knowledge.

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