It is not that participants forget the rules. Indeed, children often call out the correct higher-order rule on trials in the mixed condition (e.g., “same,” “opposite,” “opposite,” “same”) even as they are making errors.
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Indeed, children often call out the correct higher-order rule on trials in the mixed condition (e.g., “same,” “opposite,” “opposite,” “same”) even as they are making errors.
The problem seems to be in quickly translating the rule into the correct response when switching back & forth.
In the Incongruent condition, besides needing to hold one abstract rule in mind (“press on the side opposite the dot”), you need to inhibit the natural tendency to respond on the same side as the stimulus.
In the Mixed condition, working memory is needed to hold TWO abstract rules in mind and mentally translate same/opposite into L or R, cognitive flexibility is needed to switch between rules, and inhibition is needed on incongruent trials and switch trials.
re-setting one’s attentional focus, re-orienting one’s mindset --
that is most difficult & when DL-PFC is most critically required.
Stimuli presented for 2500 ms Stimuli presented for 750 ms
Age in Years
Davidson et al. (2006). Neuropsychologia, 44, 2037 - 2078
but children of all ages demonstrated a cost in doing so, albeit a much lesser cost than intermittently exercising that inhibition.
The opposite is true for young adults:
increasing memory load is disproportionately more difficult for adults than increasing inhibitory demands.
Adults may not appreciate how inordinately difficult inhibition is for young children because it is less taxing for us.
Development from 4-13 Years of Cognitive Control and Executive Functions:
Evidence from Manipulations of Memory Load, Inhibition, and Task Switching
Loren Cruess Anderson
& Adele Diamond
published in Neuropsychologia
vol 44, pages 2037 - 2078