How does preparation influence cognitive control? Informative cues guide cortico-subcortical systems for conflict resolution.
Ceballos, Jose Miguel
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Behavioral research has demonstrated that the demands placed on cognitive control mechanisms are significant reduced when cues give the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming processes. Currently, the neurocognitive bases of preparation are not fully understood, as most neuroimaging investigations of cognitive control do not separate preparation from execution. The current fMRI investigation separately examined processes associated with preparing for response conflict from those associated with response execution, using a modified version of the Preparing to Overcome a Prepotent Response (POP) task. The addition of non-informative cues allowed us to map the neural networks involved in the preparation for conflict and the influence of such preparatory processes. Data from 42 individuals showed that the presence of preparatory cues reduced the cognitive demands associated with overcoming a prepotent response, as evidenced both by significant cue X congruency interactions in behavioral data, and by reduced patterns of neural activation for response override trials that were followed by informative preparatory cues. Preparation to override a was associated with engagement of a distributed network typically associated with cognitive control, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, inferior parietal lobes, and striatum. Interestingly, many of these regions were not subsequently recruited during conflict resolution following informative cues. In contrast, when conflict resolution occurred “on the fly” (following noninformative cues), response inhibition regions became activated during task execution, namely the right inferior frontal cortex and globus pallidus. Individual differences analyses showed that better performance (as indexed by faster RTs) with and without preparatory cuing was underpinned by largely non-overlapping neural networks, with cued execution being associated with striatal activity, whereas execution “on the fly” was more broadly associated with recruitment of a cortical and subcortical control network. These results show both qualitative and quantitative differences in the neurocognitive processes associated with executing controlled behaviors with and without preparation.
- Psychology