Cognitive control and attentional functions

Melissa Ann Mackie, Nicholas T. Van Dam, Jin Fan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive control is essential to flexible, goal-directed behavior under uncertainty, yet its underlying mechanisms are not clearly understood. Because attentional functions are known to allocate mental resources and prioritize the information to be processed, we propose that the attentional functions of alerting, orienting, and executive control and the interactions among them contribute to cognitive control in the service of uncertainty reduction. To test this hypothesis, we examined the relationship between cognitive control and attentional functions. We used the Majority Function Task (MFT) to manipulate uncertainty in order to evoke cognitive control along with the Revised Attention Network Test (ANT-R) to measure the efficiency and the interactions of attentional functions. A backwards, stepwise regression model revealed that performance on the MFT could be significantly predicted by attentional functions and their interactions as measured by the ANT-R. These results provide preliminary support for our theory that the attentional functions are involved in the implementation of cognitive control as required to reduce uncertainty, though further investigation is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-312
Number of pages12
JournalBrain and cognition
Volume82
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Cognitive control
  • Executive control
  • Uncertainty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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