, Volume 70, Issue 6, pp 514-525
Date: 21 Sep 2005

The neural effect of stimulus-response modality compatibility on dual-task performance: an fMRI study

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Recent fMRI studies suggest that the inferior frontal sulcus (IFS) is involved in the coordination of interfering processes in dual-task situations. The present study aims to further specify this assumption by investigating whether the compatibility between stimulus and response modalities modulates dual-task-related activity along the IFS. It has been shown behaviorally that the degree of interference, as measured by dual-task costs, increases in modality-incompatible conditions (e.g. visual–vocal tasks combined with auditory–manual tasks) as compared to modality-compatible conditions (e.g. visual–manual tasks combined with auditory–vocal tasks). Using fMRI, we measured IFS activity when participants performed modality-compatible and modality-incompatible single and dual tasks. Behaviorally, we replicated the finding of higher dual-task costs for modality-incompatible tasks compared to modality-compatible tasks. The fMRI data revealed higher activity along the IFS in modality-incompatible dual tasks compared with modality-compatible dual tasks when inter-individual variability in functional brain organization is taken into account. We argue that in addition to temporal order coordination (Szameitat et al., 2002), the IFS is involved in the coordination of cognitive processes associated with the concurrent mapping of sensory information onto corresponding motor responses in dual-task situations.