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ERIC Number: EJ1056542
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Mar
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Control of Task Sequences: What Is the Role of Language?
Mayr, Ulrich; Kleffner-Canucci, Killian; Kikumoto, Atsushi; Redford, Melissa A.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v40 n2 p376-384 Mar 2014
It is almost a truism that language aids serial-order control through self-cuing of upcoming sequential elements. We measured speech onset latencies as subjects performed hierarchically organized task sequences while "thinking aloud" each task label. Surprisingly, speech onset latencies and response times (RTs) were highly synchronized, a pattern that is not consistent with the hypothesis that speaking aids proactive retrieval of upcoming sequential elements during serial-order control. We also found that when instructed to do so, subjects were able to speak task labels prior to presentation of response-relevant stimuli and that this substantially reduced RT signatures of retrieval--however, at the cost of more sequencing errors. Thus, while proactive retrieval is possible in principle, in natural situations it seems to be prevented through a strong "gestalt-like" tendency to synchronize speech and action. We suggest that this tendency may support context updating rather than proactive control.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Institute on Aging (DHHS/NIH)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Oregon
Grant or Contract Numbers: RO1 AG037564-01A1