Stimulus and response conflict processing during perceptual decision making

Carter Wendelken, Jochen Ditterich, Silvia A. Bunge, Cameron S Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Encoding and dealing with conflicting information is essential for successful decision making in a complex environment. In the present fMRI study, stimulus conflict and response conflict are contrasted in the context of a perceptual decision-making dot-motion discrimination task. Stimulus conflict was manipulated by varying dot-motion coherence along task-relevant and task-irrelevant dimensions. Response conflict was manipulated by varying whether or not competing stimulus dimensions provided evidence for the same or different responses. The right inferior frontal gyrus was involved specifically in the resolution of stimulus conflict, whereas the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex was shown to be sensitive to response conflict. Additionally, two regions that have been linked to perceptual decision making with dot-motion stimuli in monkey physiology studies were differentially engaged by stimulus conflict and response conflict. The middle temporal area, previously linked to processing of motion, was strongly affected by the presence of stimulus conflict. On the other hand, the superior parietal lobe, previously associated with accumulation of evidence for a response, was affected by the presence of response conflict. These results shed light on the neural mechanisms that support decision making in the presence of conflict, a cognitive operation fundamental to both basic survival and high-level cognition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)434-447
Number of pages14
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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