Conflict monitoring and motor inhibition are engaged in the performance of complex tasks. The midcingulate cortex (MCC) has been suggested to detect conflicts, whereas the right inferior frontal cortex (IFC) seems to be of relevance for the inhibition process. The current experiment investigates the neural underpinnings of their interplay via a modified flanker paradigm. Conflict was manipulated by the congruency of flanking stimuli relative to a target (congruent vs. incongruent) and motor inhibition by a within-trial response change of the initiated response (keep response vs. stop-change). We used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, decomposition with high model order ICA, and single trial analysis to derive a functional parcellation of the whole-brain data. Results demonstrate the segmentation of the MCC into anterior and posterior subregions, and of the IFC into the pars opercularis, pars triangularis, and pars orbitalis. The pars opercularis and pars triangularis of the right IFC constituted the foundation of inhibition-related networks. With high conflict on incongruent trials, activity in the posterior MCC network, as well as in one right IFC network was observed. Stop-change trials modulated both the MCC as well as networks covering extended parts of the IFC. Whereas conflict processing and inhibition most often are studied separately, this study provides a synopsis of functionally coupled brain regions acting in concert to enable an optimal performance in situations involving interference and inhibition.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.