Prefrontal cortex activation in task switching: an event-related fMRI study

Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2000 Jan;9(1):103-9. doi: 10.1016/s0926-6410(99)00029-4.


When a switch between two tasks has to be carried out, performance is slower than in trials where the same task is performed repeatedly. This finding has been attributed to time-consuming control processes required for task switching. Previous results of other paradigms investigating cognitive control processes suggested that prefrontal cortex is involved in executive control. We used event-related fMRI to investigate prefrontal cortex involvement in task switching. Regions in the lateral prefrontal and premotor cortex bilaterally, the anterior insula bilaterally, the left intraparietal sulcus, the SMA/pre-SMA region and the cuneus/precuneus were activated by the task repetition condition and showed additional activation in the task switch condition. This confirmed the hypothesis that lateral prefrontal cortex is involved in task switching. However, the results also showed that this region is neither the only region involved in task switching nor a region specifically involved in task switching.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Motor Cortex / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*