A functional approach for research on cognitive control: Analysing cognitive control tasks and their effects in terms of operant conditioning

Baptist Liefooghe, Jan De Houwer
Published Online:
01 Jun 2015
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 51 Issue 1

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Cognitive control is an important mental ability that is examined using a multitude of cognitive control tasks and effects. The present paper presents the first steps in the elaboration of a functional approach, which aims to uncover the communalities and differences between different cognitive control tasks and their effects. Based on the idea that responses in cognitive control tasks qualify as operant behaviour, we propose to reinterpret cognitive control tasks in terms of operant contingencies and cognitive control effects as instances of moderated stimulus control. We illustrate how our approach can be used to uncover communalities between topographically different cognitive control tasks and can lead to novel questions about the processes underlying cognitive control.

© 2015 International Union of Psychological Science