An important aspect of cognitive control is to direct attention towards relevant information and away from distracting information. This attentional modulation is at the core of several influential frameworks, but its trainability and generalisability remain unclear. To address this issue, two groups of subjects were invited to the lab on three consecutive days. On Day 2, they performed an arrow priming task which trained them to adopt an attentional bias towards (prime-attended group) or away from (prime-diverted group) a potentially conflicting prime. Direct generalisation of the attention training was measured by assessing task performance on the same task without the attentional manipulation directly after training (Day 2) and the next day (Day 3), and comparing it to baseline (Day 1). Performance on this direct transfer task showed a difference in attentional modulation between groups directly after training that persisted the next day. No cross-task generalisation was found to two other tasks that were closely or more remotely related to the trained task. Together, these results are in accordance with cognitive control frameworks that limit attentional modulation to the specific features of the trained task.
Aben, B., Iseni, B., Van den Bussche, E., & Verguts, T. (2018). Persistent modification of cognitive control through attention training. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, DOI: 10.1177/1747021818757979.
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