1. Neuroscience
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Cascade of neural processing orchestrates cognitive control in human frontal cortex

  1. Hanlin Tang
  2. Hsiang-Yu Yu
  3. Chien-Chen Chou
  4. Nathan E Crone
  5. Joseph R Madsen
  6. William S Anderson
  7. Gabriel Kreiman  Is a corresponding author
  1. Harvard University, United States
  2. Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taiwan
  3. Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, United States
  4. Harvard Medical School, United States
  5. Johns Hopkins Medical School, United States
Research Article
  • Cited 14
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Cite this article as: eLife 2016;5:e12352 doi: 10.7554/eLife.12352

Abstract

Rapid and flexible interpretation of conflicting sensory inputs in the context of current goals is a critical component of cognitive control that is orchestrated by frontal cortex. The relative roles of distinct subregions within frontal cortex are poorly understood. To examine the dynamics underlying cognitive control across frontal regions, we took advantage of the spatiotemporal resolution of intracranial recordings in epilepsy patients while subjects resolved color-word conflict. We observed differential activity preceding the behavioral responses to conflict trials throughout frontal cortex; this activity was correlated with behavioral reaction times. These signals emerged first in anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) before dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), followed by medial frontal cortex (mFC) and then by orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). These results disassociate the frontal subregions based on their dynamics, and suggest a temporal hierarchy for cognitive control in human cortex.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Hanlin Tang

    Program in Biophysics, Harvard University, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Hsiang-Yu Yu

    Department of Neurology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Chien-Chen Chou

    Department of Neurology, Taipei Veterans General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Nathan E Crone

    Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Joseph R Madsen

    Department of Neurosurgery, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. William S Anderson

    Department of Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Medical School, Baltimore, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Gabriel Kreiman

    Program in Biophysics, Harvard University, Boston, United States
    For correspondence
    gkreiman@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Ethics

Human subjects: Informed consent, and consent to publish, was obtained for each participant. All procedures were approved by the Institutional Review Boards at each institution (Methods).

Reviewing Editor

  1. Hiram Brownell, Boston College, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: October 15, 2015
  2. Accepted: February 13, 2016
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: February 18, 2016 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 17, 2016 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2016, Tang et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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