The congruency sequence effect 3.0: a critical test of conflict adaptation

Wout Duthoo, Elger L Abrahamse, Senne Braem, C Nico Boehler, Wim Notebaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Over the last two decades, the congruency sequence effect (CSE) -the finding of a reduced congruency effect following incongruent trials in conflict tasks- has played a central role in advancing research on cognitive control. According to the influential conflict-monitoring account, the CSE reflects adjustments in selective attention that enhance task focus when needed, often termed conflict adaptation. However, this dominant interpretation of the CSE has been called into question by several alternative accounts that stress the role of episodic memory processes: feature binding and (stimulus-response) contingency learning. To evaluate the notion of conflict adaptation in accounting for the CSE, we construed versions of three widely used experimental paradigms (the colour-word Stroop, picture-word Stroop and flanker task) that effectively control for feature binding and contingency learning. Results revealed that a CSE can emerge in all three tasks. This strongly suggests a contribution of attentional control to the CSE and highlights the potential of these unprecedentedly clean paradigms for further examining cognitive control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e110462
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Conflict, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reaction Time/physiology
  • Stroop Test
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult


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