Neuroimaging evidence suggests that executive functions (EF) depend on brain regions that are not closely tied to specific cognitive demands but rather to a wide range of behaviors. A multiple-demand (MD) system has been proposed, consisting of regions showing conjoint activation across multiple demands. Additionally, a number of studies defining networks specific to certain cognitive tasks suggest that the MD system may be composed of a number of sub-networks each subserving specific roles within the system. We here provide a robust definition of an extended MDN (eMDN) based on task-dependent and task-independent functional connectivity analyses seeded from regions previously shown to be convergently recruited across neuroimaging studies probing working memory, attention and inhibition, i.e., the proposed key components of EF. Additionally, we investigated potential sub-networks within the eMDN based on their connectional and functional similarities. We propose an eMDN network consisting of a core whose integrity should be crucial to performance of most operations that are considered higher cognitive or EF. This then recruits additional areas depending on specific demands.
Keywords: Executive functioning; Functional connectivity; Hierarchical clustering; Higher cognitive functions; Meta-analytical connectivity modeling.
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