Advertisement

Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 221, Issue 3, pp 1781–1786 | Cite as

In favor of general probability distributions: lateral prefrontal and insular cortices respond to stimulus inherent, but irrelevant differences

  • Anna Mestres-MisséEmail author
  • Robert Trampel
  • Robert Turner
  • Sonja A. Kotz
Short Communication

Abstract

A key aspect of optimal behavior is the ability to predict what will come next. To achieve this, we must have a fairly good idea of the probability of occurrence of possible outcomes. This is based both on prior knowledge about a particular or similar situation and on immediately relevant new information. One question that arises is: when considering converging prior probability and external evidence, is the most probable outcome selected or does the brain represent degrees of uncertainty, even highly improbable ones? Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, the current study explored these possibilities by contrasting words that differ in their probability of occurrence, namely, unbalanced ambiguous words and unambiguous words. Unbalanced ambiguous words have a strong frequency-based bias towards one meaning, while unambiguous words have only one meaning. The current results reveal larger activation in lateral prefrontal and insular cortices in response to dominant ambiguous compared to unambiguous words even when prior and contextual information biases one interpretation only. These results suggest a probability distribution, whereby all outcomes and their associated probabilities of occurrence—even if very low—are represented and maintained.

Keywords

Ambiguity Uncertainty Probability distributions Prefrontal cortex Anterior insula fMRI 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by a Beatriu de Pinós postdoctoral grant from the Government of Catalonia (Generalitat de Catalunya) to AMM. We thank T. Gunter for his help with the stimulus material.

References

  1. Badre D (2008) Cognitive control, hierarchy, and the rostro-caudal organization of the frontal lobes. Trends Cogn Sci 12:193–200CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Badre D, D’Esposito M (2009) Is the rostro-caudal axis of the frontal lobe hierarchical? Nat Rev Neurosci 10:659–669CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Bedny M, McGill M, Thompson-Schill SL (2008) Semantic adaptation and competition during word comprehension. Cereb Cortex 18:2574–2585CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Botvinick MM, Braver TS, Barch DM, Carter CS, Cohen JD (2001) Conflict monitoring and cognitive control. Psychol Rev 108:624–652CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Christoff K, Gabrieli JD (2000) The frontopolar cortex and human cognition: evidence for a rostrocaudal hierarchical organization within the human prefrontal cortex. Psychobiology 28:168–186Google Scholar
  6. Duffy SA, Morris RK, Rayner K (1988) Lexical ambiguity and fixation times in reading. J Mem Lang 27:429–446CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Friston KJ, Holmes AP, Worsley KJ, Poline JB, Frith CD, Frackowiak RS (1995) Statistical parametric maps in functional imaging: a general linear approach. Hum Brain Mapp 2:189–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Genovesio A, Tsujimoto S, Navarra G, Falcone R, Wise SP (2014) Autonomous encoding of irrelevant goals and outcomes by prefrontal cortex neurons. J Neurosci 34:1970–1978CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Gunter TC, Wagner S, Friederici AD (2003) Working memory and lexical ambiguity resolution as revealed by ERPs: a difficult case for activation theories. J Cogn Neurosci 15:643–657CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Hon N, Ong J, Tan R, Yang TH (2012) Different types of target probability have different prefrontal consequences. Neuroimage 59:655–662CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Jurafsky D (1996) A probabilistic model of lexical and syntactic access and disambiguation. Cogn Sci 20:137–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Knill DC, Pouget A (2004) The Bayesian brain: the role of uncertainty in neural coding and computation. Trends Neurosci 27:712–719CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Koechlin E, Ody C, Kouneiher F (2003) The architecture of cognitive control in the human prefrontal cortex. Science 302:1181–1185CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. MacDonald MC, Seidenberg MS (2006) Constraint satisfaction accounts of lexical and sentence comprehension. In: Traxler MJ, Gernsbacher MA (eds) Handbook of Pyscholinguistics, 2nd edn. Elsevier Inc, London, pp 581–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Marques JP, Kober T, Krueger G, van der Zwaag W, Van de Moortele PF, Gruetter R (2010) MP2RAGE, a self bias-field corrected sequence for improved segmentation and T1-mapping at high field. Neuroimage 49:1271–1281CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Mason RA, Just MA (2007) Lexical ambiguity in sentence comprehension. Brain Res 1146:115–127CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Mestres-Missé A, Bazin P-L, Trampel R, Turner R, Kotz SA (2014) Dorsomedial striatum involvement in regulating conflict between current and presumed outcomes. Neuroimage 98C:159–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Miller EK, Cohen JD (2001) An integrative theory of prefrontal cortex function. Annu Rev Neurosci 24:167–202CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Petrides M (2005a) Lateral prefrontal cortex: architectonic and functional organization. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 360:781–795CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Petrides M (2005b) The rostral-caudal axis of cognitive control within the lateral frontal cortex. In: Dehaene S, Duhamel GR, Hauser GR, Rizzolatti G (eds) From monkey brain to human brain. MIT Press, Cambridge, pp 293–314Google Scholar
  21. Pouget A, Beck JM, Ma WJ, Latham PE (2013) Probabilistic brains: knowns and unknowns. Nat Neurosci 16:1170–1178CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Rayner K, Duffy SA (1986) Lexical complexity and fixation times in reading: effects of word frequency, verb complexity, and lexical ambiguity. Mem Cognit 14:191–201CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Ridderinkhof KR, Ullsperger M, Crone EA, Nieuwenhuis S (2004a) The role of medial frontal cortex in cognitive control. Science 306:443–447CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Ridderinkhof KR, van den Wildenberg WP, Segalowitz SJ, Carter CS (2004b) Neurocognitive mechanisms of cognitive control: the role of prefrontal cortex in action selection, response inhibition, performance monitoring, and reward-based learning. Brain Cogn 56:129–140CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Rodd JM, Davis MH, Johnsrude IS (2005) The neural mechanisms of speech comprehension: fMRI studies of semantic ambiguity. Cereb Cortex 15:1261–1269CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Rodd JM, Johnsrude IS, Davis MH (2012) Dissociating frontotemporal contributions to semantic ambiguity resolution in spoken sentences. Cereb Cortex 22:1761–1773CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Sakai K (2008) Task set and prefrontal cortex. Annu Rev Neurosci 31:219–245CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Sereno SC, O’Donnell PJ, Rayner K (2006) Eye movements and lexical ambiguity resolution: investigating the subordinate-bias effect. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 32:335–350CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Sheridan H, Reingold EM (2012) The time course of contextual influences during lexical ambiguity resolution: evidence from distributional analyses of fixation durations. Mem Cognit 40:1122–1131CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Twilley LC, Dixon P (2000) Meaning resolution processes for words: a parallel independent model. Psychon Bull Rev 7:49–82CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Wagner S (2003) Verbales Arbeitsgedächtnis und die Verarbeitung ambiger Wörter in Wort- und Satzkontexten. Dissertation, Max Planck Institute of Cognitive NeuroscienceGoogle Scholar
  32. Wagner S, Gunter TC (2004) Determining inhibition: individual differences in the ‘lexicon context’ trade-off during lexical ambiguity resolution in working memory. Exp Psychol 51:290–299CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Zempleni MZ, Renken R, Hoeks JC, Hoogduin JM, Stowe LA (2007) Semantic ambiguity processing in sentence context: evidence from event-related fMRI. Neuroimage 34:1270–1279CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Mestres-Missé
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Robert Trampel
    • 2
  • Robert Turner
    • 2
  • Sonja A. Kotz
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Psychological SciencesThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzigGermany

Personalised recommendations