Author(s): Melcher T, Gruber O
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Abstract In the current event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we sought to trace back Stroop-interference to circumscribed properties of task-irrelevant word information - response-incompatibility, semantic incongruency and task-reference - that we conceive as conflict factors. Thereby, we particularly wanted to disentangle intermingled contributions of semantic conflict and response conflict to the overall Stroop-interference effect. To delineate neural substrates of single factors, we referred to the logics of cognitive subtraction and cognitive conjunction. Moreover, in a second step, we conducted correlation analyses to determine the relationship between neural activations and behavioral interference costs (i.e., conflict-related reaction time (RT) slowing) so as to further elucidate the functional role of the respective brain regions in conflict processing. Response-incompatibility was associated with activation in the left premotor cortex which can be interpreted as indicating motor competition or conflict, i.e., the presence of competing response tendencies. Accordingly, this activation was positively correlated with behavioral conflict costs. Semantic incongruency exhibited specific activation in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), the bilateral insula, and thalamus as well as in left somatosensory cortex. As supported by the consistent negative correlation with behavioral conflict costs, these activations most probably reflect strengthened control efforts to overcome interference and to ensure adequate task performance. Finally, task-reference elicited activation in the left temporo-polar cortex (TPC) and the right medial superior as well as in left rostroventral prefrontal cortex (rvPFC, sub-threshold activation). As strongly supported by prior studies' findings, this neural activation pattern may underlie residual semantic processing of the task-irrelevant word information.
This article was published in Cortex
and referenced in Journal of Neurology & Neurophysiology