Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Previously Published Works bannerUC Berkeley

Trial-by-trial adjustments in control triggered by incidentally encoded semantic cues


Cognitive control mechanisms provide the flexibility to rapidly adapt to contextual demands. These contexts can be defined by top-down goals-but also by bottom-up perceptual factors, such as the location at which a visual stimulus appears. There are now several experiments reporting contextual control effects. Such experiments establish that contexts defined by low-level perceptual cues such as the location of a visual stimulus can lead to context-specific control, suggesting a relatively early focus for cognitive control. The current set of experiments involved a word-word interference task designed to assess whether a high-level cue, the semantic category to which a word belongs, can also facilitate contextual control. Indeed, participants exhibit a larger Flanker effect to items pertaining to a semantic category in which 75% of stimuli are incongruent than in response to items pertaining to a category in which 25% of stimuli are incongruent. Thus, both low-level and high-level stimulus features can affect the bottom-up engagement of cognitive control. The implications for current models of cognitive control are discussed.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View