Conflict processing mediated by fronto-striatal regions may be influenced by emotional properties of stimuli. This study aimed to examine the effects of emotion repetition on cognitive control in a conflict-provoking situation. Twenty-one healthy subjects were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a sequential cognitive conflict task composed of emotional stimuli. The regional effects were analyzed according to the repetition or non-repetition of cognitive congruency and emotional valence between the preceding and current trials. Post-incongruence interference in error rate and reaction time was significantly smaller than post-congruence interference, particularly under repeated positive and non-repeated positive, respectively, and post-incongruence interference, compared to post-congruence interference, increased activity in the ACC, DLPFC, and striatum. ACC and DLPFC activities were significantly correlated with error rate or reaction time in some conditions, and fronto-striatal connections were related to the conflict processing heightened by negative emotion. These findings suggest that the repetition of emotional stimuli adaptively regulates cognitive control and the fronto-striatal circuit may engage in the conflict adaptation process induced by emotion repetition. Both repetition enhancement and repetition suppression of prefrontal activity may underlie the relationship between emotion and conflict adaptation.
Keywords: Cognitive control; Conflict adaptation; Emotion repetition; Fronto-striatal regions; Sequential cognitive conflict.
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