Tasks Driven by Perceptual Information Do Not Recruit Sustained BOLD Activity in Cingulo-Opercular Regions

Cereb Cortex. 2016 Jan;26(1):192-201. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu187. Epub 2014 Aug 22.


Sustained blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex/medial superior frontal cortex (dACC/msFC) and bilateral anterior insula/frontal operculum (aI/fO) is found in a broad majority of tasks examined and is believed to function as a putative task set maintenance signal. For example, a meta-analysis investigating task-control signals identified the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula as exhibiting sustained activity across a variety of task types. Re-analysis of tasks included in that meta-analysis showed exceptions, suggesting that tasks where the information necessary to determine a response was present in the stimulus (i.e., perceptually driven) does not show strong sustained cingulo-opercular activity. In a new experiment, we tested the generality of this observation while addressing alternative explanations about sustained cingulo-opercular activity (including task difficulty and verbal vs. non-verbal task demands). A new, difficult, perceptually driven task was compared with 2 new tasks that depended on information beyond that provided by the stimulus. The perceptually driven task showed a lack of cingulo-opercular activity in contrast to the 2 newly constructed tasks. This finding supports the idea that sustained cingulo-opercular activity contributes to maintenance of task set in only a subset of tasks.

Keywords: cognitive control; fMRI; sustained BOLD; task set; task-control signals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Male
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Young Adult