Double Dissociation Between Action-Driven and Perception-Driven Conflict Resolution Invoking Anterior Versus Posterior Brain Systems


Schulte, T., Müller-Oehring, E. M., Vinco, S., Hoeft, F., Pfefferbaum, A., & Sullivan, E. V. (2009). Double dissociation between action-driven and perception-driven conflict resolution invoking anterior versus posterior brain systems. Neuroimage, 48(2), 381-390.


The ability to select and integrate relevant information in the presence of competing irrelevant information can be enhanced by advance information to direct attention and guide response selection. Attentional preparation can reduce perceptual and response conflict, yet little is known about the neural source of conflict resolution, whether it is resolved by modulating neural responses for perceptual selection to emphasize task-relevant information or for action selection to inhibit pre-potent responses to interfering information. We manipulated perceptual information that either matched or did not match the relevant color feature of an upcoming Stroop stimulus and recorded hemodynamic brain responses to these events. Longer reaction times to incongruent than congruent color–word Stroop stimuli indicated conflict; however, conflict was even greater when a color cue correctly predicted the Stroop target’s color (match) than when it did not (nonmatch). A predominantly anterior network was activated for Stroop-match and a predominantly posterior network was activated for Stroop-nonmatch. Thus, when a stimulus feature did not match the expected feature, a perceptually-driven posterior attention system was engaged, whereas when interfering, automatically-processed semantic information required inhibition of pre-potent responses, an action-driven anterior control system was engaged. These findings show a double dissociation of anterior and posterior cortical systems engaging in different types of control for perceptually-driven and action-driven conflict resolution.

Keywords: fMRI, Perceptual cueing

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