EEG source reconstruction reveals frontal-parietal dynamics of spatial conflict processing

PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57293. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057293. Epub 2013 Feb 25.


Cognitive control requires the suppression of distracting information in order to focus on task-relevant information. We applied EEG source reconstruction via time-frequency linear constrained minimum variance beamforming to help elucidate the neural mechanisms involved in spatial conflict processing. Human subjects performed a Simon task, in which conflict was induced by incongruence between spatial location and response hand. We found an early (∼200 ms post-stimulus) conflict modulation in stimulus-contralateral parietal gamma (30-50 Hz), followed by a later alpha-band (8-12 Hz) conflict modulation, suggesting an early detection of spatial conflict and inhibition of spatial location processing. Inter-regional connectivity analyses assessed via cross-frequency coupling of theta (4-8 Hz), alpha, and gamma power revealed conflict-induced shifts in cortical network interactions: Congruent trials (relative to incongruent trials) had stronger coupling between frontal theta and stimulus-contrahemifield parietal alpha/gamma power, whereas incongruent trials had increased theta coupling between medial frontal and lateral frontal regions. These findings shed new light into the large-scale network dynamics of spatial conflict processing, and how those networks are shaped by oscillatory interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Electrodes
  • Electroencephalography*
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*

Grant support

Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.