Pro- and antisaccade task-switching: response suppression-and not vector inversion-contributes to a task-set inertia.
Tari B., Heath M.
Alternating between different tasks represents an executive function essential to activities of daily living. In the oculomotor literature, reaction times (RT) for a 'standard' and stimulus-driven (SD) prosaccade (i.e., saccade to target at target onset) are increased when preceded by a 'non-standard' antisaccade (i.e., saccade mirror-symmetrical to target at target onset), whereas the converse switch does not elicit an RT cost. The prosaccade switch-cost has been attributed to lingering neural activity-or task-set inertia-related to the antisaccade executive demands of response suppression and vector inversion. It is, however, unclear whether response suppression and/or vector inversion contribute to the prosaccade switch-cost. Experiment 1 of the present work had participants alternate (i.e., AABB paradigm) between minimally delayed (MD) pro- and antisaccades. MD saccades require a response after target extinction and necessitate response suppression for both pro- and antisaccades-a paradigm providing a framework to determine whether vector inversion contributes to a task-set inertia. In Experiment 2, participants alternated between SD pro- and MD antisaccades-a paradigm designed to determine if a switch-cost is selectively imparted when a SD and standard response is preceded by a non-standard response. Experiment 1 showed that RTs for MD pro- and antisaccades were refractory to the preceding trial-type; that is, vector inversion did not engender a switch-cost. Experiment 2 indicated that RTs for SD prosaccades were increased when preceded by an MD antisaccade. Accordingly, response suppression engenders a task-set inertia but only for a subsequent stimulus-driven and standard response (i.e., SD prosaccade). Such a result is in line with the view that response suppression is a hallmark feature of executive function.