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Electrophysiological Evidence for Domain-general Processes in Task-switching

By Mariagrazia eCapizzi, Ettore eAmbrosini, Sandra eArbula, Sandra eArbula, Ilaria eMazzonetto, Ilaria eMazzonetto and Antonino eVallesi and Antonino eVallesi


The ability to flexibly switch between tasks is a hallmark of cognitive control. Despite previous studies that have investigated whether different task-switching types would be mediated by distinct or overlapping neural mechanisms, no definitive consensus has been reached on this question yet. Here, we aimed at directly addressing this issue by recording the event-related potentials (ERPs) elicited by two types of task-switching occurring in the context of spatial and verbal cognitive domains. Source analysis was also applied to the ERP data in order to track the spatial dynamics of brain activity underlying task-switching abilities. In separate blocks of trials, participants had to perform either spatial or verbal switching tasks both of which employed the same type of stimuli. The ERP analysis, which was carried out through a channel- and time-uninformed mass univariate approach, showed no significant differences between the spatial and verbal domains in the modulation of switch and repeat trials. Specifically, relative to repeat trials, switch trials in both domains were associated with a first larger positivity developing over left parieto-occipital electrodes and with a subsequent larger negativity distributed over mid-left fronto-central sites. The source analysis reconstruction for the two ERP components complemented these findings by highlighting the involvement of left-lateralized prefrontal areas in task-switching. Overall, our results join and extend recent research confirming the existence of left-lateralized domain-general task-switching processes

Topics: executive functions, Event-related potentials, SOURCE RECONSTRUCTION, prefrontal cortex., Spatial domain, Verbal domain
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2016
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00124
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:81f4eaab1e7f4e2d997de65ddbf93c68
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