Seemingly distinct cognitive tasks often activate similar anatomical networks. For example, the right fronto-parietal cortex is active across a wide variety of paradigms suggesting that these regions may subserve a general cognitive function. We utilized fMRI and a GO/NOGO task consisting of two conditions, one with intermittent unpredictive "cues-to-attend" and the other without any "cues-to-attend," in order to investigate areas involved in inhibition of a prepotent response and top-down attentional control. Sixteen subjects (5 male, ages ranging from 20 to 30 years) responded to an alternating sequence of the letters X and Y and withheld responding when the alternating sequence was broken (e.g., when X followed an X). Cues were rare stimulus font-color changes, which were linked to a simple instruction to attend to the task at hand. We hypothesized that inhibitions and cues, despite requiring quite different responses from subjects, might engage similar top-down attentional control processes and would thus share a common network of anatomical substrates. Although inhibitions and cues activated a number of distinct brain regions, a similar network of right dorsolateral prefrontal and inferior parietal regions was active for both. These results suggest that this network, commonly activated for response inhibition, may subserve a more general cognitive control process involved in allocating top-down attentional resources.
- Right DLPFC
- Top-down control
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology