Changing plans: neural correlates of executive control in monkey and human frontal cortex
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Changing plans depends on executive control, the orchestration of behavior based on knowledge of both goal and context. Dorsolateral prefrontal (DLPFC) and anterior cingulate (ACC) cortices are clearly involved in these processes. Intracranial recordings in these regions were obtained from a monkey performing an executive control-challenging task that is widely used in clinic and laboratory to assess the integrity of cognitive function, the AX version of the continuous performance task (AX-CPT), and directly compared to scalp-recorded evoked potentials in humans. In this task the subject presses a button when detecting a frequent cue–target probe sequence in a stream of letters presented on a computer screen, and withholds response following incorrect sequences. Thus correct performance requires correct encoding of cue and probe instruction and inhibitory control. Intracranial recordings showed that DLPFC in the monkey was primarily activated by conditions that required inhibition of imminent action, as had been shown in human event-related potential (ERP) recordings. Different subregions of monkey ACC were activated primarily by either initiating or inhibiting action, whereas human ERP had shown ACC activation in both situations. We suggest that simultaneous activation of both types of subregions in conflict conditions may account the ubiquitous ACC activation observed with fMRI and ERP in those conditions.