Coordinating among the demands of the external environment and internal plans requires cognitive control supported by a fronto-parietal control network (FPCN). Evidence suggests that multiple control systems span the FPCN whose operations are poorly understood. Previously (Nee and D'Esposito, 2016; 2017), we detailed frontal dynamics that support control processing, but left open their role in broader cortical function. Here, I show that the FPCN consists of an external/present-oriented to internal/future-oriented cortical gradient extending outwardly from sensory-motor cortices. Areas at the ends of this gradient act in a segregative manner, exciting areas at the same level, but suppressing areas at different levels. By contrast, areas in the middle of the gradient excite areas at all levels, promoting integration of control processing. Individual differences in integrative dynamics predict higher-level cognitive ability and amenability to neuromodulation. These data suggest that an intermediary zone within the FPCN underlies integrative processing that supports cognitive control.
All data and code needed to reproduce the figures in this report can be found at https://osf.io/938dx/.
PFC-PPC IntegrationOpen Science Framework, 938dx.
- Derek Evan Nee
- Derek Evan Nee
- Derek Evan Nee
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: Informed consent was obtained in accordance with the Committee for Protection of Human Subjects at the University of California, Berkeley (2010-04-1314, 2010-02-781).
- Daeyeol Lee, Johns Hopkins University, United States
© 2021, Nee
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.
Higher-level cognition depends on the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), but its functional organization has remained elusive. An influential proposal is that the LPFC is organized hierarchically whereby progressively rostral areas of the LPFC process/represent increasingly abstract information facilitating efficient and flexible cognition. However, support for this theory has been limited. Here, human fMRI data revealed rostral/caudal gradients of abstraction in the LPFC. Dynamic causal modeling revealed asymmetrical LPFC interactions indicative of hierarchical processing. Contrary to dominant assumptions, the relative strength of efferent versus afferent connections positioned mid LPFC as the apex of the hierarchy. Furthermore, cognitive demands induced connectivity modulations towards mid LPFC consistent with a role in integrating information for control operations. Moreover, the strengths of these dynamics were related to trait-measured higher-level cognitive ability. Collectively, these results suggest that the LPFC is hierarchically organized with the mid LPFC positioned to synthesize abstract and concrete information to control behavior.
During fear learning, defensive behaviors like freezing need to be finely balanced in the presence or absence of threat-predicting cues (conditioned stimulus, CS). Nevertheless, the circuits underlying such balancing are largely unknown. Here, we investigate the role of the ventral tail striatum (vTS) in auditory-cued fear learning of male mice. In vivo Ca2+ imaging showed that sizable sub-populations of direct (D1R+) and indirect pathway neurons (Adora+) in the vTS responded to footshocks, and to the initiation of movements after freezing; moreover, a sub-population of D1R+ neurons increased its responsiveness to an auditory CS during fear learning. In-vivo optogenetic silencing shows that footshock-driven activity of D1R+ neurons contributes to fear memory formation, whereas Adora+ neurons modulate freezing in the absence of a learned CS. Circuit tracing identified the posterior insular cortex (pInsCx) as an important cortical input to the vTS, and recording of optogenetically evoked EPSCs revealed long-term plasticity with opposite outcomes at the pInsCx synapses onto D1R+ - and Adora+ neurons. Thus, direct- and indirect pathways neurons of the vTS show differential signs of plasticity after fear learning, and balance defensive behaviors in the presence and absence of learned sensory cues.