Stimulus variability improves generalization following response inhibition training

Tamara E. Moshon-Cohen, Noam Weinbach, Tali Bitan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined the effect of stimulus variability and practice order on generalization to novel stimuli following a single session of response inhibition training. Ninety-six young adults practiced the Go/No-go task online in three training conditions: (1) constant (N = 32)—inhibition practiced on one stimulus; (2) variable-blocked (N = 32)—inhibition practiced on 6 stimuli, each in a separate block; and (3) variable-random (N = 32)—inhibition practiced on 6 stimuli in random order. Generalization was measured by comparing groups on inhibition of novel stimuli and a trained stimulus immediately and 24 h after training. Consistent with our hypothesis, the variable-random and the variable-blocked groups showed better generalization to the novel items than the constant group, demonstrating the benefit of stimulus variability. The variable-random group also showed better generalization than the variable-blocked group, demonstrating the benefit of presenting stimuli in random order. Participants’ capacity for working memory maintenance was found to modulate the effect of practice order. While the benefit of variability was retained 24 h after training, the effect of order was not. Results also show generalization to (1) different type of stimuli using the same task and (2) the same stimuli on a different response inhibition task (the Stop-Signal Task), however, the effect of variable practice and order were not evident in these cases. The study findings illustrate the advantage of using variable stimuli presented in random order for generalization and suggest that these principles of motor learning can be applied to learning of cognitive skills.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalPsychological Research
Early online date16 Jan 2024
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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