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Dissociable brain mechanisms for inhibitory control: Effects of interference content and working memory capacity

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Weber,  Kerstin
MPI of Cognitive Neuroscience (Leipzig, -2003), The Prior Institutes, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Gunter,  Thomas C.
MPI of Cognitive Neuroscience (Leipzig, -2003), The Prior Institutes, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Mecklinger, A., Weber, K., Gunter, T. C., & Engle, R. W. (2003). Dissociable brain mechanisms for inhibitory control: Effects of interference content and working memory capacity. Cognitive Brain Research, 18(1), 26-38. doi:10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2003.08.008.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-AC51-6
Abstract
In this study, event-related fMRI was used to examine whether the resolution of interference arising from two different information contents activates the same or different neuronal circuitries. In addition, we examined the extent to which these inhibitory control mechanisms are modulated by individual differences in working memory capacity. Two groups of participants with high and low working memory capacity [high span (HS) and low span (LS) participants, respectively] performed two versions of an item recognition task with familiar letters and abstract objects as stimulus materials. Interference costs were examined by means of the recent negative probe technique with otherwise identical testing conditions across both tasks. While the behavioral interference costs were of similar magnitude in both tasks, the underlying brain activation pattern differed between tasks: The object task interference-effects (higher activation in interference trials than in control trials) were restricted to the anterior intraparietal sulcus (IPS). Interference effects for familiar letters were obtained in the anterior IPS, the left postero-ventral and the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) as well as the precuneus. As the letters were more discernible than the objects, the results suggest that the critical feature for PFC and precuneus involvement in interference resolution is the saliency of stimulus-response mappings. The interference effects in the letter task were modulated by working memory capacity: LS participants showed enhanced activation for interference trials only, whereas for HS participants, who showed better performance and also lower interference costs in the letter task, the above-mentioned neuronal circuitry was activated for interference and control trials, thereby attenuating the interference effects. The latter results support the view that HS individuals allocate more attentional resources for the maintenance of task goals in the face of interfering information from preceding trials with familiar stimulus materials.