Adaptive control process of conflict adaptation

Instantiations of adaptive control are common in everyday life, and adaptive control is fundamental across a range of domains, including attention, learning, working memory, and decision making. Models of adaptive control emphasize the flexibility in human decision making that occurs in the real world. These models fractionate adaptive control into different elemental constructs and make specific predictions about human behavior. Much of my research has focused on evaluating and refining these models of adaptive control. For example, conflict adaptation refers to the changes in response times, error rates, and neural activity according to the difficulty of a task. When a trial is difficult, control will be increased to achieve an accurate response. This increased control remains available on the subsequent trial where neural responses, response times, and error rates will be reduced.

We published studies showing that adaptive control can cumulate over the course of a difficult task, that neural indices reflecting errors and post-error adjustments predicted changes in control, and that changes in control are not solely due to the priming of a response on the previous trial (a prediction of one model). We have also examined various individual difference factors that play a role in adaptive control, including participant sex, neuropsychological functioning, and induced positive or negative affect. I was co-first author on a review paper that critiqued the extant event-related potential (ERP) literature on adaptive control and evaluated how this ERP literature informed models of adaptive control. The aim of these studies was to determine the neural bases of adaptive control, and these findings provided the foundation for investigating adaptive control in clinical populations.

Selected Publications

Clayson, P. E., & Larson, M. J. (2011). Conflict adaptation and sequential trial effects: Support for the conflict monitoring theory. Neuropsychologia, 49, 1953-1961.

Clayson, P. E., & Larson, M.J. (2012). Cognitive performance and electrophysiological indices of cognitive control: A validation study of conflict adaptation. Psychophysiology, 50, 426-433.

Larson, M. J., Clayson, P. E., & Clawson, A. (2014). Making sense of all the conflict: A theoretical review and critique of conflict-related ERPs. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 93, 283-297.

Larson, M. J., Clayson, P. E., Kirwan, C. B., & Weissman, D. H. (2016). Event-related potential indices of congruency sequence effects without feature integration or contingency learning confounds. Psychophysiology, 53, 814-822.


Adaptive control process in neurologic, psychiatric, and developmental populations

We conducted a series of studies that applied our adaptive control research to understanding how impairment in adaptive control manifests in the real world. For example, individuals with mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) typically have difficulties adjusting their behaviors to the demands of their environment. We showed that mild TBI can have long-term negative effects on adaptive control. Even subtle cognitive difficulties, like those difficulties observed in major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and autism spectrum disorders, impact the ability to adapt to conflict and environmental difficulties. We also observed changes in adaptive control across the lifespan. Taken together, these studies highlight the role that disrupted adaptive control may play in maladaptive daily functioning.

Selected Publications

Larson, M. J., Clayson, P. E., & Farrer, T. J. (2012). Performance monitoring and cognitive control in individuals with mild traumatic brain injury. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 18, 323-333.

Larson, M. J., South, M., Clayson, P. E., & Clawson, A. (2012). Cognitive control and conflict adaptation in youth with high-functioning autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 440-448.

Clawson, A., Clayson, P. E., & Larson, M. J. (2013). Cognitive control adjustments and conflict adaptation in major depressive disorder. Psychophysiology, 50, 711-721.

Clawson, A., Clayson, P. E., Keith, C. M., Catron, C., & Larson, M. J. (2017). Conflict and performance monitoring throughout the lifespan: An event-related potential (ERP) and temporospatial component analysis. Biological Psychology, 124, 87-99.


Measurement and psychometric properties of event-related potentials (ERPs)

I have a strong interest in improving and disseminating methods for the measurement and psychometric evaluation of ERPs. For example, we conducted a psychometric simulation study to determine the most efficient and least biased approaches for measuring ERPs. This paper was used in the methodological guidelines paper for ERP measurement published by the Society for Psychophysiological Research. We have also tested the psychometric characteristics of various indices of adaptive control. Through these studies, we concluded that neural indices of adaptive control are reliable and have good convergent validity with existing measures of cognitive abilities.

We also improved on the common approach to evaluating the psychometric properties of ERP scores by taking advantage of generalizability theory, and the paper on this method was republished in a special issue of Psychophysiology. We recently published a guidelines paper on the best practices for evaluating and reporting ERP score reliability and highlighted the advantages of generalizability theory over classical test theory. To make the application of generalizability theory to ERP scores more accessible to the scientific community, I developed and published open-source, Matlab software that implements this approach. This research helps to generate momentum toward developing reliable, individual-difference ERP measures that can be used to examine constructs dimensionally, which is in accordance with NIH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative.

Selected Publications

Clayson, P. E., Baldwin, S. A., & Larson, M. J. (2013). How does noise affect amplitude and latency measurement of event-related potentials (ERPs)? A methodological critique and simulation study. Psychophysiology, 50, 174-186.

Baldwin, S. A., Larson, M. J., & Clayson, P. E. (2015). The dependability of electrophysiological measurements of performance monitoring in a clinical sample: A generalizability and decision analysis of the ERN and Pe. Psychophysiology, 52, 790-800.

Clayson, P. E., & Miller, G. A. (2017). Psychometric considerations in the measurement of event-related brain potentials: Guidelines for measurement and reporting. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 111, 57-67.

Clayson, P. E., & Miller, G. A. (2017). ERP Reliability Analysis (ERA) Toolbox: An open-source toolbox for analyzing the reliability of event-related brain potentials. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 111, 68-79.