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  • 1. Samrani, George
    et al.
    Marklund, Petter
    Engström, Lisa
    Broman, Daniel
    Dalarna University, School of Education, Health and Social Studies. Högskolan i Skövde.
    Persson, Jonas
    Behavioral facilitation and increased brain responses from a high interference working memory context.2018In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 8, no 1, article id 15308Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Many real-life situations require flexible behavior in changing environments. Evidence suggests that anticipation of conflict or task difficulty results in behavioral and neural allocation of task-relevant resources. Here we used a high- and low-interference version of an item-recognition task to examine the neurobehavioral underpinnings of context-sensitive adjustment in working memory (WM). We hypothesized that task environments that included high-interference trials would require participants to allocate neurocognitive resources to adjust to the more demanding task context. The results of two independent behavioral experiments showed enhanced WM performance in the high-interference context, which indicated that a high-interference context improves performance on non-interference trials. A third behavioral experiment showed that when WM load was increased, this effect was no longer significant. Neuroimaging results further showed greater engagement of inferior frontal gyrus, striatum, parietal cortex, hippocampus, and midbrain in participants performing the task in the high- than in the low-interference context. This effect could arise from an active or dormant mode of anticipation that seems to engage fronto-striatal and midbrain regions to flexibly adjust resources to task demands. Our results extend the model of conflict adaptation beyond trial-to-trial adjustments by showing that a high interference context affects both behavioral and biological aspects of cognition.

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