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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.

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:10.1016/j.brainres.2005.10.094
PubMed ID:16376861
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-50221

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