Differential effects of phasic and tonic alerting on the efficiency of executive attention.Acta Psychol (Amst). 2017 May; 176:58-70.AP
The study examined how alerting and executive attention interact in a task involving conflict resolution. We proposed a tentative scenario in which an initial exogenous phasic alerting phase is followed by an endogenous tonic alerting phase, and hypothesized that these two processes may have distinct effects on conflict resolution. Phasic alerting was expected to increase the conflict, whereas tonic alerting was expected to decrease the conflict. Three experiments were conducted using different variants of the flanker task with visual alerting cues and varied cue-target intervals (SOA), to differentiate between effects of phasic alerting (short SOA) and tonic alerting (long SOA). The results showed that phasic alerting consistently decreased the efficiency of conflict resolution indexed by response time and accuracy, whereas tonic alerting increased the accuracy of conflict resolution, but at a cost in the speed of processing the conflict. The third experiment additionally showed that the effects of phasic alerting may be modulated by the psychophysical strength of alerting cues. Discussed are possible mechanisms that could account for the observed interactions between alerting and conflict resolution, as well as some discrepancies between the current and previous studies.