The time course of activity in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex during top-down attentional control. Journal Article uri icon



  • A network of brain regions has been implicated in top-down attentional control, including left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (LDLPFC) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC). The present experiment evaluated predictions of the cascade-of-control model (Banich, 2009), which predicts that during attentionally-demanding tasks, LDLPFC imposes a top-down attentional set which precedes late-stage selection performed by dACC. Furthermore, the cascade-of-control model argues that dACC must increase its activity to compensate when top-down control by LDLPFC is poor. The present study tested these hypotheses using fMRI and dense-array ERP data collected from the same 80 participants in separate sessions. fMRI results guided ERP source modeling to characterize the time course of activity in LDLPFC and dACC. As predicted, dACC activity subsequent to LDLPFC activity distinguished congruent and incongruent conditions on the Stroop task. Furthermore, when LDLPFC activity was low, the level of dACC activity was related to performance outcome. These results demonstrate that dACC responds to attentional demand in a flexible manner that is dependent on the level of LDLPFC activity earlier in a trial. Overall, results were consistent with the temporal course of regional brain function proposed by the cascade-of-control model.

publication date

  • April 1, 2010

Full Author List

  • Silton RL; Heller W; Towers DN; Engels AS; Spielberg JM; Edgar JC; Sass SM; Stewart JL; Sutton BP; Banich MT

Other Profiles

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1292

end page

  • 1302


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