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Top-down modulation of task features in rapid instructed task learning: An ERP study

Cooper, Rebecca (2014) Top-down modulation of task features in rapid instructed task learning: An ERP study. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Rapid instructed task learning (RITL) is the ability to quickly restructure behaviour into new configurations based on explicit instruction (Cole, Laurent, & Stocco, 2012). The majority of RITL research has been dominated by neuroimaging studies, which suggest unique involvements of the lateral prefrontal cortex and the posterior parietal cortex, although the exact mechanisms of RITL execution remain poorly understood. The electrophysiological responses of 22 adults undergoing a computerised RITL sequential dependency task were obtained, with the expectation that task relevance processes would be observable at posterior N1, anterior P2a/N2, and central P3b. Early top-down amplitudinal modulation was found in N1 for all item types, and this was related to non-target N2 amplitudes, with both time windows showing preliminary support for compositionality of individual task components. Evidence for compositionality in attentional template matching processes was also found in the P2a/N2 complex. Central P3b did not appear to be involved in task relevance processes per se, perhaps being more involved in attentional resource allocation. These findings answer important questions as how to task-relevant feature identification and task component sequencing occur in RITL.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology and Exercise Science
Supervisor(s): Gouldthorp, Bethanie and Roberts, Gareth
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