Psychology ETDs

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Individuals can use verbal resources of the phonological loop to support goal-directed behavior. Resources of the phonological loop are known to support goal-directed behavior via the maintenance and retrieval of stimulus-response maps (S-R), but it is also possible that these resources control behavior more broadly by contributing to the choice of what task to perform, i.e. task choice or task selection. To evaluate the role of phonological resources in task choice a unique variant of task switching was used, voluntary task switching (VTS). VTS provides the traditional metrics of task performance as well as a metric of task choice, the probability of switching tasks. In four experiments, task choice and task performance were measured as a function of the response to stimulus interval (RSI), the type of stimulus (a stimulus repetition or a stimulus change) and the availability of phonological loop resources. Individuals performed articulatory suppression to disrupt resources of the phonological loop, i.e., individuals repeated the word the' aloud in time with a metronome. Decreased switching was found at short RSIs, when stimuli repeated, and when individuals performed concurrent articulatory suppression. The expected interaction of RSI and Load for the task choice measure was inconsistent and incompatible with the view that individuals rehearse previous task choices to guide current task choice in VTS. These data suggest that resources of the phonological loop contribute to processes of goal-activation as well as basic task-level processing. These results support models of task switching that distinguish between goal and task-level representations. Critically, this work suggests that traditional task-switching environments underestimate the impact of phonological interference on goal-directed behavior.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Ruthruff, Eric

Second Committee Member

Arrington, Catherine

Third Committee Member

Shane, Matt




Action theory, Phonetics.

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