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Special Collection

Core mechanisms in Action Control: Binding and Retrieval

Collection launched: 05 Apr 2022

This special collection focuses on action control and its two resumed core processes, namely feature binding and retrieval. Action control is arguably one of the most important topics in cognition as humans interact with their environment by means of goal-directed behavior, i.e. by means of actions. Cognitive processes were developed and shaped to enhance preparation, execution, and regulation of action. Therefore, it is the current consensus that cognition serves action.

To date, research on human action control is comprised mainly of an abundance of paradigm-specific results and models. To gain a better understanding of action control, an integrative framework was proposed (the BRAC framework – for Binding and Retrieval in Action Control, Frings et al., 2020) that can explain a wide range of findings across different experimental paradigms by assuming two core processes as key functions in action control: feature binding and feature retrieval.

Many experimental paradigms that analyze action control (e.g., task switching, negative priming, stimulus-response binding tasks, action planning tasks, or conflict tasks measuring cognitive control) use a sequential logic – in an event features are integrated/bound together and in the following event features are retrieved (although the definition of what an event actually constitutes is somewhat different across paradigms). Unfortunately, most theories neglect the fact that processes of feature binding and retrieval can be independently modulated by top-down and bottom-up processes, rendering the source of potential effects ambiguous. Therefore, the independent modulation of feature binding and retrieval processes is explicitly included in the BRAC framework.

Guest Editors: Andrea Kiesel, Lisa R. Fournier, Carina G. Giesen, Susanne Mayr, & Christian Frings