Neural conflict-control mechanisms improve memory for target stimuli.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

According to conflict-monitoring models, conflict serves as an internal signal for reinforcing top-down attention to task-relevant information. While evidence based on measures of ongoing task performance supports this idea, implications for long-term consequences, that is, memory, have not been tested yet. Here, we evaluated the prediction that conflict-triggered attentional enhancement of target-stimulus processing should be associated with superior subsequent memory for those stimuli. By combining functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) with a novel variant of a face-word Stroop task that employed trial-unique face stimuli as targets, we were able to assess subsequent (incidental) memory for target faces as a function of whether a given face had previously been accompanied by congruent, neutral, or incongruent (conflicting) distracters. In line with our predictions, incongruent distracters not only induced behavioral conflict, but also gave rise to enhanced memory for target faces. Moreover, conflict-triggered neural activity in prefrontal and parietal regions was predictive of subsequent retrieval success, and displayed conflict-enhanced functional coupling with medial-temporal lobe regions. These data provide support for the proposal that conflict evokes enhanced top-down attention to task-relevant stimuli, thereby promoting their encoding into long-term memory. Our findings thus delineate the neural mechanisms of a novel link between cognitive control and memory.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Krebs, RM; Boehler, CN; De Belder, M; Egner, T

Published Date

  • March 2015

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 833 - 843

PubMed ID

  • 24108799

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4400531

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1460-2199

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1047-3211

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/cercor/bht283


  • eng