The Eriksen Flankers Task is a popular cognitive task used to measure response inhibition and attentional control. The task was developed by Eriksen and Eriksen (1974) and involves a participant responding to a centrally presented target letter (e.g., “X”) surrounded by two or four “flanker” letters (e.g., “XXYX”). Participants are asked to identify the target letter (e.g., “X”) and ignore the flankers. The response time (RT) and accuracy of the participant’s response is then measured.

The task has been used in a variety of studies to measure a variety of cognitive functions, such as response inhibition, selective attention, and working memory. For example, Nieuwenhuis et al. (2001) found that the Eriksen Flankers Task was useful in measuring the effects of the dopamine agonist, D-amphetamine, on response inhibition. In this study, participants were asked to complete the task both before and after the administration of D-amphetamine, with the results indicating that D-amphetamine generally decreased the RT of the task, suggesting it improved response inhibition. Other studies have used the Eriksen Flankers Task to measure the effects of aging on attentional control (Botzung et al., 2008) and the effects of mindfulness meditation on attentional control (Grossman et al., 2004).

Overall, the Eriksen Flankers Task is a valuable tool for measuring a variety of cognitive functions. It is simple to administer and provides reliable results. As such, it is an excellent choice for researchers studying cognitive processes.


Botzung, A., Denkova, E., & Manning, L. (2008). The effects of aging on attentional control and response inhibition: An ERP study of the Eriksen flanker task. Neuropsychologia, 46(13), 3086–3096.

Eriksen, B.A., & Eriksen, C.W. (1974). Effects of noise letters upon the identification of a target letter in a nonsearch task. Perception & Psychophysics, 16(1), 143–149.

Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 57(1), 35–43.

Nieuwenhuis, S., Ridderinkhof, K.R., Blom, J., Band, G.P., & Kok, A. (2001). Error-related brain potentials are differentially related to awareness of response errors: Evidence from an antisaccade task. Psychophysiology, 38(2), 259–267.

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