Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychological Science



First Reader/Committee Chair

Reimer, Jason


A central hypothesis of cognitive control is that goal maintenance operates via two distinct modes: proactive control and reactive control (Braver, Gray, & Burgess, 2007). Individuals using a proactive strategy, focus on actively maintaining goal-relevant information in memory, whereas reactive individuals store goal-relevant information and retrieve it when cues are present. This theoretical framework for understanding the sources of variation in cognitive control is termed the dual mechanisms of control (DMC). When compared to high working memory capacity (WMC) individuals, low WMC individuals tend to utilize reactive control more often. However, some factors influence an individuals’ bias towards one type of control over another. The purpose of the present study is to examine how different strategies are utilized by low vs. high WMC individuals under different task situations. Specifically, whether a shift in cognitive control will occur in low and high WMC individuals when the task favors one strategy method over another. A new version of the AX continuous performance task (AX-CPT) (termed the AX-CPT-color) was created where letter stimuli are presented in either the color red or green. Two rulesets are given with the AX-CPT-color, one ruleset without color match requirements and one ruleset with color match requirement. A switch from reactive to proactive control was observed when the color ruleset was being utilized. This switch occurred in both low and high WMC individuals in a mixed design study and was characterized by faster RTs and fewer errors on AX and BX trials, but slower RTs and greater errors on AY trials in relation to the no rule condition. These findings could potentially assist in early intervention programs and aid in identifying individuals with deficits in order to provide them adequate resources to help improve in performance.