Functional neuroanatomy of executive processes involved in dual-task performance.
The subjective experience of allocating one's attentional resources among competing tasks is nearly universal, and most current models of cognition include a mechanism that performs this allocation; examples include the central executive system and the supervisory attentional system. Yet, the exact form that an executive system might take and even its necessity for cognition are controversial. Dual-task paradigms have commonly been used to investigate executive function. The few neuroimaging studies of these paradigms have yielded contradictory findings. Using functional MRI, we imaged brain function during two dual-task paradigms, each with a common auditory component task (NOUN task) but varying with respect to a visual component task (SPACE or FACE tasks). In each of the two dual-task paradigms, the results showed that the activated areas varied with the component tasks, that all of the areas activated during dual task performance were also activated during the component tasks, and that surplus activation within activated areas during DUAL conditions was parsimoniously accounted for by the addition of the second task. These findings suggest that executive processes may be mediated by interactions between anatomically and functionally distinct systems engaged in performance of component tasks, as opposed to an area or areas dedicated to a generic executive system.
Adcock, RA; Constable, RT; Gore, JC; Goldman-Rakic, PS
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