Can you change your mind? An ERP study of cognitive flexibility and new evidence integration

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Cognitive flexibility is an ability that allows individuals to integrate external evidence into previous expectancies. Individual differences in this ability were examined using Event-Related Potentials (ERPs), focusing on the fact that new evidence can either confirm or disprove an initial impression. Written scenarios prompted to make a prediction while either confirmatory or disconfirmatory evidence followed. A final sentence presented participants with a statement congruent with the prediction likely to have been formed based on the first statement or a statement rather congruent with corrective new evidence. A Bias Against Disconfirmatory Evidence (BADE) test rated participants in cognitive flexibility. ERPs revealed that whereas individuals overall typically reacted to unexpected endings (a classical N400 effect) within the confirmatory evidence condition, higher cognitive flexibility scores were associated with smaller N400 effects. Furthermore, individuals showed larger P600s for disconfirmatory than confirmatory evidence conditions, regardless of the final target ending. This result indexes reanalysis processes whenever disconfirmatory evidence was present. Regression analysis of BADE scores and ERP effects are presented and discussed. Late ERP components are sensitive enough to detect new evidence integration capabilities and thus provide a good implicit measure of cognitive flexibility.
CRUE-CSIC (Acuerdos Transformativos 2022)