Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 167, Issue 1, pp 38–48 | Cite as

Neural correlates of conflict processing

  • Robert West
  • Kristin Jakubek
  • Nicholas Wymbs
  • Michele Perry
  • Kara Moore
Research Article

Abstract

In this study we examined the neural correlates of conflict processing in the Stroop, counting, and digit-location tasks using event-related brain potentials (ERPs). The behavioral data revealed robust interference in response time and accuracy for all tasks. The interference effect for response time was greater in the Stroop task than the other tasks; in contrast, the interference effect for response accuracy was greater in the counting tasks than the other tasks. The N450 and sustained potential (SP) were elicited in each task. Partial least-squares (PLS) analysis was used to examine the structural relationships between the ERPs, task design, and behavior. TaskPLS analysis revealed that the N450 and SP were associated with a single latent variable leading to the suggestion that a common set of neural generators was recruited during conflict processing across the tasks and that there were differences between ERPs related to early processing across the three tasks. BehavioralPLS analysis revealed that the amplitude of the SP was positively correlated with response time and accuracy, indicating that this modulation of the ERPs may be related to response selection rather than to conflict resolution.

Keywords

Conflict processing Stroop task Counting task Partial least-squares ERPs 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a grant from the Faculty Research Program of The University of Notre Dame. We would like to thank Nancy Lobaugh for invaluable discussion related to the analysis and interpretation of the results of PLS analyses. Robert West, 118 Haggar Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA. Email West.19@nd.edu.

References

  1. Banich MT, Milham MP, Atchley R, Cohen NJ, Webb A, Wszalek T, Kramer AF, Liang Z-P, Wright A, Shenker J, Magin R (2000) FMRI studies of Stroop tasks reveal unique roles of anterior and posterior brain systems in attentional selection. J Cogn Neurosci 12:988–1000CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Botvinick MM, Braver TS, Barch DM, Carter CS, Cohen JD (2001) Conflict monitoring and cognitive control. Psychol Rev 108:624–652CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Braver TS, Barch DM, Gray JR, Molfese DL, Snyder A (2001) Anterior cingulate cortex and response conflict: Effects of frequency, inhibition and errors. Cereb Cortex 11:825–836CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bush G, Whalen PJ, Rosen BR, Jenike MA, McInerney SC, Rauch SL (1998) The counting Stroop: an interference task specialized for functional neuroimaging—validation study with functional MRI. Hum Brain Mapp 6:270–282CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Carter CS, MacDonald AM, Botvinick MM, Ross LL, Stenger A, Noll D, Cohen JD (2000) Parsing executive processes: Strategic versus evaluative functions of the anterior cingulate cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97:1944–1948CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Cohen JD, Servan-Schreiber D (1992) Context, cortex, and dopamine: a connectionist approach to behavior and biology in schizophrenia. Psychol Rev 99:45–77CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen JD, Dunbar K, McClelland JL (1990) On the control of automatic processes: a parallel distributed processing account of the Stroop effect. Psychol Rev 97:332–361CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Comalli PE Jr, Wapner S, Werner H (1962) Interference effects of Stroop Color-Word Test in childhood, adulthood, and aging. J Genet Psychol 100:47–53PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Dien J, Frishkoff GA (2004) Principal components analysis of event-related potential datasets. In: Handy T (ed) Event-related potentials: A methods handbook. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass, pp 189–208Google Scholar
  10. Duncan-Johnson CC, Kopell BS (1981) The Stroop effect: brain potentials localize the source of interference. Science 214:938–940PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eriksen BA, Eriksen CE (1974) Effects of noise letters upon the identification of a target letter in a nonsearch task. Percept Psychophys 16:143–149Google Scholar
  12. Fan J, Flombaum JI, McCandliss BD, Thomas KM, Posner MI (2003) Cognitive and brain consequences of conflict. NeuroImage 18:42–57CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Gehring WJ, Gratton G, Coles MGH, Donchin E (1992) Probability effects on stimulus evaluation and response processes. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 18:198–216CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gehring WJ, Goss B, Coles MGH, Meyer DE, Donchin E (1993) A neural system for error detection and compensation. Psychol Sci 4:385–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hentschel U (1973) Two new interference tests compared to the Stroop color-word test. Psychol Res Bull, Lund Univ 13:1–24 (From Psychological Abstracts, 1974, 51, Abstract No. 8163)Google Scholar
  16. Huynh H, Feldt LS (1976) Estimation of the box correction for degrees of freedom from sample data in the randomized block and split-plot designs. J Educ Stat 1:69–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jennings JR (1987) Editorial policy on analyses of variance with repeated measures. Psychophysiology 24:474–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kopp B, Rist F, Mattler U (1996) N200 in the flanker task as a neurobehavioral tool for investigating executive control. Psychophysiology 33:282–294PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Liotti M, Woldorff MG, Perez R III, Mayberg HS (2000) An ERP study of the temporal course of the Stroop color-word interference effect. Neuropsychologia 38:701–711CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Lobaugh NJ, West R, McIntosh AR (2001) Spatiotemporal analysis of experimental differences in event-related potential data with partial least-squares. Psychophysiology 38:517–530CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. MacLeod CM (1991) Half a century of research on the Stroop effect: an integrative review. Psychol Bull 109:163–203CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Markela-Lerenc J, Ille N, Kaiser S, Fiedler P, Mundt C, Weisbrod M (2004). Prefrontal-cingulate activation during executive control: which comes first?. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res 18:278–287CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. McIntosh AR, Bookstein FL, Haxby JV, Grady CL (1996) Spatial pattern analysis of functional images using partial least-squares. Neuroimage 3:143–157CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Nieuwenhuis S, Yeung N, van den Wildenberg W, Ridderinkhof KR (2003) Electrophysiological correlates of anterior cingulate function in a Go/No-Go task: effects of response conflict and trial-type frequency. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 3:17–26PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pardo JV, Pardo JP, Janer KW, Raichle ME (1990) The anterior cingulate cortex mediates processing selection in the Stroop attentional conflict paradigm. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 87:256–259PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Perlstein WM, Carter CS, Barch DM, Baird JW (1998) The Stroop task and attention deficits in schizophrenia: a critical evaluation of card and single-trial Stroop methodologies. Neuropsychology 12:414–425CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Perret E (1974) The left frontal lobe of man and the suppression of habitual responses in verbal categorical behaviour. Neuropsychologia 12:323–330CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Salthouse TA, Meinz EJ (1995) Aging, inhibition, working memory, and speed. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci 50B:297–306Google Scholar
  29. Shilling VM, Chetwynd A, Rabbitt PM (2002) Individual inconsistency across measures of inhibition: an investigation of the construct validity of inhibition in older adults. Neuropsychologia 40:605–619CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Stroop JR (1935) Studies of interference in serial verbal reactions. J Exp Psychol 18:643–662CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ullsperger M, van Cramon DY (2001) Subprocesses of performance monitoring: a dissocation of error processing and response competition revealed by event-related fMRI and ERPs. NeuroImage 14:1387–1401CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Urbach TP, Kutas M (2002) The intractability of scaling scalp distributions to infer neuroelectric sources. Psychophysiology 39:791–808CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. van Veen V, Carter CS (2002) The timing of action-monitoring processes in the anterior cingulate cortex. J Cogn Neurosci 15:593–602CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Verhaeghen P, De Meersman L (1998) Aging and the Stroop effect: a meta-analysis. Psychol Aging 13:120–126CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. West R (2003) Neural correlates of cognitive control and conflict detection in the stroop and digit-location tasks. Neuropsychologia 41:1122–1135CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. West R, Alain C (2000) Effects of task context and fluctuations of attention on neural activity supporting performance of the Stroop task. Brain Res 873:102–111CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. West R, Bowry R, McConville C (2004) Sensitivity of medial frontal cortex to response and non-response conflict. Psychophysiology 41:739–748CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Wold H (1975) Path models with latent variables: The NIPALS approach. In: Blalock HM, Aganbegian A, Borodkin FM, Boudon R, Cappecchi V (eds) Quantitative sociology: International perspectives on mathematical and statistical modeling. Academic Press, NY, USA, pp 307–357Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert West
    • 1
  • Kristin Jakubek
    • 1
  • Nicholas Wymbs
    • 1
  • Michele Perry
    • 1
  • Kara Moore
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

Personalised recommendations