Conflict detection and resolution rely on a combination of common and distinct cognitive control networks

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017 Dec;83:123-131. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.09.032. Epub 2017 Oct 7.


Cognitive control can be activated by stimulus-stimulus (S-S) and stimulus-response (S-R) conflicts. However, whether cognitive control is domain-general or domain-specific remains unclear. To deepen the understanding of the functional organization of cognitive control networks, we conducted activation likelihood estimation (ALE) from 111 neuroimaging studies to examine brain activation in conflict-related tasks. We observed that fronto-parietal and cingulo-opercular networks were commonly engaged by S-S and S-R conflicts, showing a domain-general pattern. In addition, S-S conflicts specifically activated distinct brain regions to a greater degree. These regions were implicated in the processing of the semantic-relevant attribute, including the inferior frontal cortex (IFC), superior parietal cortex (SPC), superior occipital cortex (SOC), and right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). By contrast, S-R conflicts specifically activated the left thalamus, middle frontal cortex (MFC), and right SPC, which were associated with detecting response conflict and orienting spatial attention. These findings suggest that conflict detection and resolution involve a combination of domain-general and domain-specific cognitive control mechanisms.

Keywords: Anterior cingulate cortex; Cognitive control; Dimensional overlap; Domain-general; Domain-specific; Dorso lateral prefrontal cortex; Insula; Meta-analysis; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions