Isolation of a central bottleneck of information processing with time-resolved FMRI.

Dux PE, Ivanoff J, Asplund CL, Marois R
Neuron. 2006 52 (6): 1109-20

PMID: 17178412 · PMCID: PMC2527865 · DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2006.11.009

When humans attempt to perform two tasks at once, execution of the first task usually leads to postponement of the second one. This task delay is thought to result from a bottleneck occurring at a central, amodal stage of information processing that precludes two response selection or decision-making operations from being concurrently executed. Using time-resolved functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), here we present a neural basis for such dual-task limitations, e.g. the inability of the posterior lateral prefrontal cortex, and possibly the superior medial frontal cortex, to process two decision-making operations at once. These results suggest that a neural network of frontal lobe areas acts as a central bottleneck of information processing that severely limits our ability to multitask.

MeSH Terms (17)

Acoustic Stimulation Adult Brain Mapping Decision Making Female Frontal Lobe Functional Laterality Humans Image Processing, Computer-Assisted Magnetic Resonance Imaging Male Mental Processes Photic Stimulation Problem Solving Random Allocation Reaction Time Time Factors

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