Shifting set about task switching: Behavioral and neural evidence for distinct forms of cognitive flexibility

Susan M. Ravizza, Cameron S Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Task switching is an important aspect of cognitive control and understanding its underlying mechanisms is the focus of considerable research. In this paper, we contrast two different kinds of task switching paradigms and provide evidence that different cognitive mechanisms underlie switching behavior depending on whether the switch is between sets of rules (rule switch) or sets of features presented simultaneously (perceptual switch). In two experiments, we demonstrate that behavioral effects (Experiment 1) and neural recruitment (Experiment 2) vary with the type of switch performed. While perceptual switch costs occurred when the alternative feature set was physically present, rule switch costs were observed even in their absence. Rule switching was also characterized by larger target repetition effects and by greater engagement of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. In contrast, perceptual switching was associated with greater recruitment of the parietal cortex. These results provide strong evidence for multiple forms of switching and suggest the limitations of generalizing results across shift types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2924-2935
Number of pages12
Issue number12
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • Cognitive control
  • Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex
  • Executive function
  • fMRI
  • Superior parietal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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