Unexpected 'all or none' processing utilized by executive systems when working memory and inhibitory control requirements increased




Frazer, Jeff

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The “All-or-None Hypothesis (ANH)” (Diamond, 2005; 2006) was examined, positing that executive systems process information and respond to the environment using global heuristics, versus a more piecemeal approach. 104 adults were tested on two novel paradigms designed to uniquely test the ANH. Working Memory (WM) and Inhibitory Control (IC) demands were manipulated, to test the impact of these task demands. Performance measured by reaction times and accuracy on both paradigms provided some support for the ANH. However, this effect was greatest when participants required ‘executive-type’ inhibition, versus ‘motor-type’ inhibition to suppress a response. Further, increasing the WM load increased the ANH trend, while varying the IC requirements had little effect. To our knowledge this is the first direct test of Diamond’s ANH, and extended its specificity in terms of task demands.



executive control, working memory, inhibitory control, all or none