Comprehensive Exam Reading List: Cognitive Control & Executive function


Current Committee Members

            Susan Ravizza (chair), Erik Altmann, Zach Hambrick


Below is a list of journals you should monitor for content relevant articles. While we will not ask a question solely on the content of recent articles, we may ask questions that ask you to apply what you know from the content of the reading list below to a current issue or hot topic of recent articles.



Below are two references that provide a good background that may be helpful when working through the readings.


Frontal lobe function in cognitive control


  1. Frith, C. D., Friston, K., Liddle, P. F., & Frackowiak, R. S. J. (1991). Willed Action and the Prefrontal Cortex in Man: A Study with PET. Proceedings: Biological Sciences, 244(1311), 241-246. [PDF]
  2. Miller, E. K., & Cohen, J. D. (2001). An integrative theory of prefrontal cortex function. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 24(1), 167-202. [PDF]
  3. Hazy, T.E., Frank, M.J., & O'Reilly, R.C. (2007). Toward an executive without a homunculus: Computational models of the prefrontal cortex/basal ganglia system. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society - B, 362, 1601-1613. [PDF]


Hierarchical organization of cognitive control in the frontal lobe


  1. Badre, D., & D'Esposito, M. (2009). Is the rostro-caudal axis of the frontal lobe hierarchical? Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 10(9), 659-669.[PDF]
  2. Badre, D., Hoffman, J., Cooney, J.W., & D'Esposito, M. (2009). Hierarchical cognitive control deficits following damage to the human frontal lobe. Nature Neuroscience, 12, 515-522. [PDF]
  3. Koechlin, E., & Jubault, T. (2006). Broca's Area and the Hierarchical Organization of Human Behavior. Neuron, 50(6), 963-974.[PDF]


Working memory


Antecedents of Working Memory


  1. Miller (1956). The magical number seven, plus or minus two: Some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 63, 81-97.[PDF]
  2. Atkinson & Shiffrin (1971). The control of short-term memory. Scientific American, 225(2), 82-90.


The Emergence of Working Memory


  1. Baddeley & Hitch (1974). Working memory. In G. A. Bower (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (vol. 8, pp. 47-89). New York, NY: Academic Press.


Prominent Models of Working Memory


  1. Baddeley & Logie (1999). Working memory: The multiple component model. In A. Miyake & P. Shah (Eds.), Models of working memory: Mechanisms of active maintenance and executive control (pp. 28-61).New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Baddeley (2000). The episodic buffer: A new component of working memory? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 417-423. [PDF]
  3. Cowan (1999). An embedded-process model of working memory. In A. Miyake & P. Shah (Eds.), Models of working memory: Mechanisms of active maintenance and executive control (pp. 62-101). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Cowan, N. (in press). The magical mystery four: How is working memory capacity limited, and why? Current Directions in Psychological Science.[PDF]
  5. Engle, R. W., Kane, M. J., & Tuholski, S. W.  (1999). Individual differences in working memory capacity and what they tell us about controlled attention, general fluid intelligence and functions of the prefrontal cortex.  In Miyake, A. & Shah, P. (Eds.), Models of Working Memory: Mechanisms of Active Maintenance and Executive Control (pp.102-134).  London: Cambridge Press.
  6. Engle, R. W. (2002). Working memory capacity as executive attention. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 11, 19-23.[PDF]


Working Memory Span


  1. Daneman & Carpenter (1980). Individual differences in working memory and reading. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 19, 450-466.  [PDF]
  2. Kyllonen, P. C., & Christal, R. E. (1990). Reasoning ability is (little more than) working-memory capacity? Intelligence, 14, 389-433.[PDF]
  3. Kane, M. J., Hambrick, D. Z., Tuholski, S. W., Wilhelm, O., Payne, T. W., & Engle, R. W. (2004).  The generality of working memory capacity: A latent variable approach to verbal and visuospatial memory span and reasoning.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 189-217. [PDF]
  4. Ackerman, P. L., Beier, M. E., & Boyle, M. O. (2005). Working memory and intelligence: The same or different constructs? Psychological Bulletin, 131, 30-60.[PDF]


Developmental Differences - Childhood


  1. Kail, R. V. (2007). Longitudinal evidence that increases in processing speed and working memory enhance children's reasoning. Psychological Science, 18, 312-313.[PDF]
  2. Bayliss, D. M., Jarrold, C., Baddeley, A. D., Gunn, D. M., & Leigh, E. (2005). Mapping the developmental constraints on working memory span performance. Developmental Psychology, 41, 579-597.[PDF]


Developmental Differences – Adulthood


  1. May, C. P., Hasher, L., & Kane, M. J. (1999). The role of interference in memory span. Memory and Cognition, 27, 759-767. [PDF]
  2. Salthouse, T. A., & Meinz, E. J. (1995). Aging, inhibition, working memory, and speed. Journals of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 50B, 297-306.[PDF]


Working Memory and the Brain


  1. O’Reilly, Braver, & Cohen (1999). A biologically-based computational model of working memory. In A. Miyake & P. Shah (Eds.), Models of working memory: Mechanisms of active maintenance and executive control (pp. 375-411). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Kane, M.J., & Engle, R.W. (2002). The role of prefrontal cortex in working-memory capacity, executive attention, and general fluid intelligence: An individual-differences perspective. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 9, 637-671. [PDF]
  3. Gray, J. R., Chabris, C. F, & Braver, T. S. (2003). Neural mechanisms of general fluid intelligence. Nature Neuroscience, 6, 316-322.[PDF]
  4. Braver, T.S., & Barch, D.M. (2006). Extracting core components of cognitive control. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 10, 529-532.[PDF]
  5. McNab, F., & Klingberg, T. (2008). Prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia control access to working memory. Nature Neuroscience, 11, 103-107.[PDF]


Monitoring functions/sequential processing


  1. Kerns, J. G., Cohen, J. D., MacDonald, A. W., Cho, R. Y., Stenger, V. A., & Carter, C. S. (2004). Anterior Cingulate Conflict Monitoring and Adjustments in Control. Science, 303(5660), 1023-1026.[PDF]
  2. Brown, J. W., & Braver, T. S. (2005). Learned Predictions of Error Likelihood in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex. Science, 307(5712), 1118-1121. [PDF]
  3. Hommel, B., Müsseler, J., Aschersleben, G., & Prinz, W. (2001). The theory of event coding (TEC): A framework for perception and action planning. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24(5), 849-937.[PDF]
  4. Botvinick, M. M., Braver, T. S., Barch, D. M., Carter, C. S., & Cohen, J. D. (2001). Conflict monitoring and cognitive control. Psychological Review, 108(3), 624-652. [PDF]
  5. Cooper, R. P., & Shallice, T. (2006). Hierarchical schemas and goals in the control of sequential behavior. Psychological Review, 113(4), 887-916.  [PDF]


Task switching/Multi-tasking:


  1. Rogers, R. D., & Monsell, S. (1995). Costs of a predictable switch between simple cognitive tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 124(2), 207-231.  [PDF]
  2. Kiesel, A., Steinhauser, M., Wendt, M., Falkenstein, M., Jost, K., Philipp, A. M., & Koch, I. (2010). Control and interference in task switching-A review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(5), 849-874.[PDF]
  3. Meiran, N. (1996). Reconfiguration of processing mode prior to task performance. Journal of Experimental Psychology:  Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 22, 1423-1442. [PDF]
  4. Yeung, N., Nystrom, L.E., Aronson, J.A., & Cohen, J.D. (2006). Between-task competition and cognitive control in task switching. Journal of Neuroscience, 26, 1429-1438.[PDF]
  5. Aron, A.R., Monsell, S., Sahakian, B.J., & Robbins, T.W. (2004). A componential analysis of task-switching deficits associated with lesions of left and right frontal cortex. Brain, 127, 1561-1573. [PDF]
  6. Salvucci, D. D., & Taatgen, N. A. (2008). Threaded cognition: An integrated theory of concurrent multitasking. Psychological Review, 115(1), 101-130.  [PDF]
  7. Strayer, D. L., Drews, F. A., & Johnston, W. A. (2003). Cell phone-induced failures of visual attention during simulated driving. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 9(1), 23-32.  [PDF]
  8. Pashler, H. (1994). Dual-task interference in simple tasks: Data and theory.  Psychological Bulletin, 116, 220-244.  [PDF]



  1. MacLeod, C. M., Dodd, M. D., Sheard, E. D., Wilson, D. E., & Bibi, U. (2003). In opposition to inhibition. In H. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation (Vol. 43, pp. 163-214). 
  2. Milliken, B., & Tipper, S. P. (1998). Attention and inhibition. In H. Pashler (Ed.), Attention. (pp. 191-221). Hove, England: Psychology Press/Erlbaum (UK) Taylor & Francis. 
  3. Wegner, D. M. (1994). Ironic processes of mental control. Psychological Review, 101(1), 34-52. [PDF]
  4. Aron, A.R., Robbins, T.W., & Poldrack, R.A. (2004). Inhibition and the right inferior frontal cortex. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 170-177. [PDF]
  5. Picton, T.W., Stuss, D.T., Alexander, M.P., Shallice, T., Binns, M.A., & Gillingham, S. (2007). Effects of focal frontal lesions on response inhibition. Cerebral Cortex, 17, 826-838. [PDF]