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Short- and long-term changes in anterior cingulate activation during resolution of task-set competition


Woodward, T S; Ruff, Christian C; Ngan, E T C (2006). Short- and long-term changes in anterior cingulate activation during resolution of task-set competition. Brain Research, 1068(1):161-169.

Abstract

Alternating between task sets involves detection that the current task set is unfavorable, initiation of a change in set, and application of the new task set while fine-tuning to optimally adjust to the demands of the environment. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of cognitive flexibility consistently report activation of the anterior cingulate cortex and/or adjacent pre-supplementary motor regions (ACC/pre-SMA, medial Brodmann's areas 24/32/6), suggesting that these cortical regions are involved in switching task set. In the current study, our objective was to probe whether ACC/pre-SMA activation would decrease for a number of trials following a switch in task set, implying longer-term involvement in fine-tuning adjustments. By measuring activation when switching between word reading and color naming in response to Stroop stimuli, ACC/pre-SMA activation was observed when actively countering the influence of the irrelevant task set, and this activation decreased as a function of the number of trials since a task switch. Basal ganglia and thalamic regions also displayed a decreased response over successive trials after task switches. These findings suggest that the ACC/pre-SMA are not only involved in generating a new course of action, but are also involved (along with subcortical regions) in fine-tuning operations that resolve competition between task sets over subsequent repetitions of the same task.

Abstract

Alternating between task sets involves detection that the current task set is unfavorable, initiation of a change in set, and application of the new task set while fine-tuning to optimally adjust to the demands of the environment. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of cognitive flexibility consistently report activation of the anterior cingulate cortex and/or adjacent pre-supplementary motor regions (ACC/pre-SMA, medial Brodmann's areas 24/32/6), suggesting that these cortical regions are involved in switching task set. In the current study, our objective was to probe whether ACC/pre-SMA activation would decrease for a number of trials following a switch in task set, implying longer-term involvement in fine-tuning adjustments. By measuring activation when switching between word reading and color naming in response to Stroop stimuli, ACC/pre-SMA activation was observed when actively countering the influence of the irrelevant task set, and this activation decreased as a function of the number of trials since a task switch. Basal ganglia and thalamic regions also displayed a decreased response over successive trials after task switches. These findings suggest that the ACC/pre-SMA are not only involved in generating a new course of action, but are also involved (along with subcortical regions) in fine-tuning operations that resolve competition between task sets over subsequent repetitions of the same task.

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25 citations in Web of Science®
30 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
08 University Research Priority Programs > Foundations of Human Social Behavior: Altruism and Egoism
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2006
Deposited On:26 Oct 2011 11:30
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:03
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0006-8993
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2005.10.094
PubMed ID:16376861

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