Meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies of the Wisconsin card-sorting task and component processes

Hum Brain Mapp. 2005 May;25(1):35-45. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20128.


A quantitative meta-analysis using the activation likelihood estimation (ALE) method was used to investigate the brain basis of the Wisconsin Card-Sorting Task (WCST) and two hypothesized component processes, task switching and response suppression. All three meta-analyses revealed distributed frontoparietal activation patterns consistent with the status of the WCST as an attention-demanding executive task. The WCST was associated with extensive bilateral clusters of reliable cross-study activity in the lateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and inferior parietal lobule. Task switching revealed a similar, although less robust, frontoparietal pattern with additional clusters of activity in the opercular region of the ventral prefrontal cortex, bilaterally. Response-suppression tasks, represented by studies of the go/no-go paradigm, showed a large and highly right-lateralized region of activity in the right prefrontal cortex. The activation patterns are interpreted as reflecting a neural fractionation of the cognitive components that must be integrated during the performance of the WCST.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Neuropsychological Tests* / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*