This is definitely the most cognitive research I've ever done. It was a treat to have the guidance of Frank Drews in developing a new method for investigating executive function where we could manipulate attentional activation of a human participant at the bit level. While the method is a bit technical to describe (you can read it in the paper), the short of it is that we used a call and response arithmetic game between study participant and researcher where we would change between 0 and 4 bits of information processing in terms of task switching requirements between trials. While doing this the participant was also moving a joystick to match a randomly swinging circle on a computer screen. They also had to push a button when their cursor turned red and not push the button when their cursor turned green. It was really hard!

We hypothesized that we would see a linear decrease in performance as the complexity of the task increased, but what we found was more interesting (and not surprising in retrospect). It turns out that while the task difficulty increases, people perform better (in terms of tracking the circle and pushing the button quickly). Until you get to the 3 to 4 bit level of difficulty, at which point performance crashes. Now, the interesting thing about this method is that we have a real world task that we could theoretically reverse engineer to determine the complexity of executive function based on some manual task, such as driving.