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Neural substrates of cognitive switching and inhibition in a face processing task

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Published in NeuroImage. 2013, vol. 82, p. 489-99
Abstract We frequently need to change our current occupation, an operation requiring additional effortful cognitive demands. Switching from one task to another may involve two distinct processes: inhibition of the previously relevant task-set, and initiation of a new one. Here we tested whether these two processes are underpinned by separate neural substrates, and whether they differ depending on the nature of the task and the emotional content of stimuli. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging in healthy human volunteers who categorize emotional faces according to three different judgment rules (color, gender, or emotional expression). Our paradigm allowed us to separate neural activity associated with inhibition and switching based on the sequence of the tasks required on successive trials. We found that the bilateral medial superior parietal lobule and left intraparietal sulcus showed consistent activation during switching regardless of the task. On the other hand, no common region was activated (or suppressed) as a consequence of inhibition across all tasks. Rather, task-specific effects were observed in brain regions that were more activated when switching to a particular task but less activated after inhibition of the same task. In addition, compared to other conditions, the emotional task elicited a similar switching cost but lower inhibition cost, accompanied by selective decrease in the anterior cingulate cortex when returning to this task shortly after inhibiting it. These results demonstrate that switching relies on domain-general processes mediated by postero-medial parietal areas, engaged across all tasks, but also provide novel evidence that task inhibition produces domain-specific decreases as a function of particular task demands, with only the latter inhibition component being modulated by emotional information.
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PMID: 23774397
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Research group Mécanismes cérébraux du comportement et des fonctions cognitives (701)
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PIGUET, Camille et al. Neural substrates of cognitive switching and inhibition in a face processing task. In: NeuroImage, 2013, vol. 82, p. 489-99. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:34055

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Deposited on : 2014-02-04

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