Condensation task as an experimental model for studying individual differences in cognitive control
Age-related brain changes are the main cause of cognitive decline. Active cognitive task perform- ance as well as resting-state activity might be a sensitive index for studying differences in aging. We investigated age-related changes in the spontaneous neuronal activity with functional mag- netic resonance imaging (fMRI) in a resting-state condition. To evaluate differences in aging, we analyzed functional connectivity between resting-state networks in two groups of older and younger healthy volunteers. Seven resting-state networks were isolated, and cross-correlation matrices were computed for the time courses. Older subjects showed decreased activity of the auditory, visual, sensory-motor networks, frontoparietal and salience networks accompanied by increased coupling of the salience network with the sensorimotor and default mode network compared to younger subjects. The age-related differences in functional connectivity may be due to aging impairment of the prefrontal cortex leading to a loss of activation in the salience, senso- rimotor and visual networks in older subjects compared to the younger subjects. However, the default mode network was more prominent in the left hemisphere and showed more coupling with the salience network in older subjects than in younger subjects, indicating possible compen- satory engagement of cognitive control regions in resting-state cognition. The results show that independent of task design and performance the functional connectivity method reflects neural changes in the aging brain.
We often change our behavior to conform to real or imagined group pressure. Social influence on our behavior has been extensively studied in social psychology, but its neural mechanisms have remained largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the transient downregulation of the posterior medial frontal cortex by theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation reduces conformity, as indicated by reduced conformal adjustments in line with group opinion. Both the extent and probability of conformal behavioral adjustments decreased significantly relative to a sham and a control stimulation over another brain area. The posterior part of the medial frontal cortex has previously been implicated in behavioral and attitudinal adjustments. Here, we provide the first interventional evidence of its critical role in social influence on human behavior.
Error commission leads to adaptive adjustments in a number of brain networks that subserve goal-directed behavior, resulting in either enhanced stimulus processing or increased motor threshold depending on the nature of errors committed. Here, we studied these adjustments by analyzing post-error modulations of alpha and theta band activity in the auditory version of the two-choice condensation task, which is highly demanding for sustained attention while involves no inhibition of prepotent responses. Errors were followed by increased frontal midline theta (FMT) activity, as well as by enhanced alpha band suppression in the parietal and the left central regions; parietal alpha suppression correlated with the task performance, left central alpha suppression correlated with the post-error slowing, and FMT increase correlated with both behavioral measures. On post-error correct trials, left-central alpha band suppression started earlier before the response, and the response was followed by weaker FMT activity, as well as by enhanced alpha band suppression distributed over the entire scalp. These findings indicate that several separate neuronal networks are involved in post-error adjustments, including the midfrontal performance monitoring network, the parietal attentional network, and the sensorimotor network. Supposedly, activity within these networks is rapidly modulated after errors, resulting in optimization of their functional state on the subsequent trials, with corresponding changes in behavioral measures.
Cognitive control includes maintenance of task-specific processes related to attention, and non-specific regulation of motor threshold. Generally, two different kinds of errors may occur, with some errors related to attentional lapses and decision uncertainty, and some errors – to failures of sustaining motor threshold. Error commission leads to adaptive adjustments in brain networks that subserve goal-directed behavior, resulting in either enhanced stimulus processing or increased motor threshold depending on the nature of errors committed. We report here two studies using the auditory version of the two-choice condensation task, which is highly demanding for sustained attention while involves no inhibition of prepotent responses. We analyzed power and topography of EEG oscillations in theta, alpha, and beta frequency bands.
Experiment 1. We studied post-error adaptive adjustments resulting in optimized brain processing and behaviour on subsequent trials. Errors were followed by increased frontal midline theta (FMT) activity, as well as by enhanced alpha band suppression in the parietal and the left central regions; parietal alpha suppression correlated with the task performance, left central alpha suppression correlated with the post-error slowing, and FMT increase correlated with both behavioral measures. On post-error correct trials, left-central alpha band suppression started earlier before the response, and the response was followed by weaker FMT activity, as well as by enhanced alpha band suppression distributed over the entire scalp. These findings show the existence of three separate neuronal networks involved in post-error adjustments: the midfrontal performance monitoring network, the parietal attentional network, and the sensorimotor network.
Experiment 2. We studied if response time may be a valid approximation distinguishing trials with high and low levels of sustained attention and decision uncertainty. We found that error-related FMT activity was present only on fast erroneous trials. The feedback-related FMT activity was equally strong on slow erroneous and fast erroneous trials. Late post-response posterior alpha suppression was stronger on erroneous slow trials. Feedbackrelated frontal beta oscillations were present only on slow correct trials. The data obtained cumulatively suggests that response time allows distinguishing the two types of trials, with fast trials related to higher levels of attention and low uncertainty, and slow trials related to lower levels of attention and higher uncertainty.
Manifestations of attentional lapses in evoked potentials during performance of the auditory condensation task
The distractive effects on attentional task performance in different paradigms are analyzed in this paper. I demonstrate how distractors may negatively affect (interference effect), positively (redundancy effect) or neutrally (null effect). Distractor effects described in literature are classified in accordance with their hypothetical source. The general rule of the theory is also introduced. It contains the formal prediction of the particular distractor effect, based on entropy and redundancy measures from the mathematical theory of communication (Shannon, 1948). Single- vs dual-process frameworks are considered for hypothetical mechanisms which underpin the distractor effects. Distractor profiles (DPs) are also introduced for the formalization and simple visualization of experimental data concerning the distractor effects. Typical shapes of DPs and their interpretations are discussed with examples from three frequently cited experiments. Finally, the paper introduces hierarchical hypothesis that states the level-fashion modulating interrelations between distractor effects of different classes.
This article describes the expierence of studying factors influencing the social well-being of educational migrants as mesured by means of a psychological well-being scale (A. Perrudet-Badoux, G.A. Mendelsohn, J.Chiche, 1988) previously adapted for Russian by M.V. Sokolova. A statistical analysis of the scale's reliability is performed. Trends in dynamics of subjective well-being are indentified on the basis the correlations analysis between the condbtbions of adaptation and its success rate, and potential mechanisms for developing subjective well-being among student migrants living in student hostels are described. Particular attention is paid to commuting as a factor of adaptation.