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Cognitive control requires a balance between persistence and flexibility. We studied inter- and intraindividual differences in the metacontrol bias towards persistence or flexibility in cognitive search tasks from various cognitive domains that require continuous switching between persistence and flexibility. For each task, clustering and switching scores were derived to assess persistence and flexibility, respectively, as well as a total performance score to reflect general performance. We compared two, not mutually exclusive accounts according to which the balance between clustering and switching scores is affected by (1) individual, trait-like metacontrol biases towards persistence or flexibility and/or (2) the metacontrol adaptivity to bias states according to changing situational demands. We found that clustering and switching scores failed to generalize across tasks. However, clustering and switching were inversely related and predicted the total performance scores in most of the tasks, which in turn partially generalized across tasks and task domains. We conclude that metacontrol-biases towards persistence or flexibility can be adapted easily to specific task demands and individual resources, possibly overwriting individual metacontrol trait biases. Moreover, we suggest that total performance scores might serve to measure metacontrol adaptivity in future studies if task-restrictions and resources are known and/or well balanced.
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Simultaneous task performance, or switching between tasks in a concentrated period of time.
Capacity that enables an individual to cope with and/or recover from the impact of a neural injury or a psychotic episode.
Measure of how well someone performs given tasks at their place of work.
Hand-held tools or implements used by health professionals for the performance of surgical tasks.
Hand-held tools or implements especially used by dental professionals for the performance of clinical tasks.