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Expert cognitive control and individual differences associated with frontal and parietal white matter microstructure

Roberts, RE; Anderson, EJ; Husain, M; (2010) Expert cognitive control and individual differences associated with frontal and parietal white matter microstructure. Journal of Neuroscience , 30 (50) , Article doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4879-10.2010. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4879-10.2010. Green open access

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Abstract

Although many functional imaging studies have reported frontal activity associated with “cognitive control” tasks, little is understood about factors underlying individual differences in performance. Here we compared the behavior and brain structure of healthy controls with fighter pilots, an expert group trained to make precision choices at speed in the presence of conflicting cues.Twodifferent behavioral paradigms—Eriksen Flanker and change of plan tasks—were used to assess the influence of distractors and the ability to update ongoing action plans. Fighter pilots demonstrated superior cognitive control as indexed by accuracy and postconflict adaptation on the Flanker task, but also showed increased sensitivity to irrelevant, distracting choices. By contrast, when pilots were examined on their ability to inhibit a current action plan in favor of an alternative response, their performance was no better than the control group. Diffusion weighted imaging revealed differences in white matter radial diffusivity between pilots and controls not only in the right dorsomedial frontal region but also in the right parietal lobe. Moreover, analysis of individual differences in reaction time costs for conflict trials on the Flanker task demonstrated significant correlations with radial diffusivity at these locations, but in different directions. Postconflict adaptation effects, however, were confined to the dorsomedial frontal locus. The findings demonstrate that in humans expert cognitive control may surprisingly be mediated by enhanced response gain to both relevant and irrelevant stimuli, and is accompanied by structural alterations in the white matter of the frontal and parietal lobe.

Type: Article
Title: Expert cognitive control and individual differences associated with frontal and parietal white matter microstructure
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4879-10.2010
Additional information: This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. The license allows you to copy, distribute, and transmit the work, as well as adapting it. However, you must attribute the work to the author (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work), and cannot use the work for commercial purposes without prior permission of the author. If you alter or build upon this work, you can distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 444 Castro Street, Suite 900, Mountain View, California, 94041, USA.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/738245
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