Separate conflict-specific cognitive control mechanisms in the human brain.


Journal Article

To ensure optimal task performance, the human brain detects and resolves conflict in information processing via a cognitive control system. However, it is not known whether conflict resolution relies on a single central resource of cognitive control, or on a collection of independent control mechanisms that deal with different types of conflict. In order to address this question, we assessed behavioral and blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) responses during the simultaneous detection and resolution of two sources of conflict in a modified color-naming Stroop task: conflict stemming from incompatibility between the task-relevant and an irrelevant stimulus feature (stimulus-based or Stroop conflict), and conflict stemming from incompatibility between an irrelevant stimulus feature and response features (response-based or Simon conflict). Results show that control mechanisms recruited by stimulus-based conflict resolve stimulus-based conflict, but do not affect the resolution of response-based conflict, and vice versa. The resolution of response-based conflict was distinguished by modulation of activity in premotor cortex, whereas resolution of stimulus-based conflict was distinguished by the modulation of activity in parietal cortex. These results suggest that the human brain flexibly adopts, and independently controls, conflict-specific resolution strategies, biasing motor programming to resolve response-based conflict, and biasing stimulus representations to resolve stimulus-based conflict. We propose a non-centralized, modular architecture of cognitive control, where separate control resources operate in parallel, and are recruited in a context-sensitive manner.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Egner, T; Delano, M; Hirsch, J

Published Date

  • April 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 940 - 948

PubMed ID

  • 17276088

Pubmed Central ID

  • 17276088

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-9572

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1053-8119

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2006.11.061


  • eng