Brain regions activated by endogenous preparatory set shifting as revealed by fMRI.
An ongoing controversy concerns whether executive control mechanisms can actively reconfigure the cognitive system in preparation for switching to a new task set. To address this question, we recorded brain activity from 14 healthy participants, using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, while they performed a cued attention task. Critically, in any particular trial, the cued task set was either the same as that in the previous trial or switched. As was hypothesized, cue-related, switch-specific preparatory activity was observed in a network of dorsal frontal and parietal brain areas that are typically associated with cognitive control processes. Moreover, the magnitude of switch-specific preparatory activity varied with the number of possible task sets that could be presented in a given trial block. These findings provide compelling support for the existence of top-down, preparatory control processes that enable set switching. Furthermore, they demonstrate that global task structure is a critical determinant of whether switch-specific preparatory activity is observed.
Slagter, HA; Weissman, DH; Giesbrecht, B; Kenemans, JL; Mangun, GR; Kok, A; Woldorff, MG
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