Disrupting prefrontal cortex prevents performance gains from sensory-motor training.

Filmer HL, Mattingley JB, Marois R, Dux PE
J Neurosci. 2013 33 (47): 18654-60

PMID: 24259586 · PMCID: PMC6618804 · DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2019-13.2013

Humans show large and reliable performance impairments when required to make more than one simple decision simultaneously. Such multitasking costs are thought to largely reflect capacity limits in response selection (Welford, 1952; Pashler, 1984, 1994), the information processing stage at which sensory input is mapped to a motor response. Neuroimaging has implicated the left posterior lateral prefrontal cortex (pLPFC) as a key neural substrate of response selection (Dux et al., 2006, 2009; Ivanoff et al., 2009). For example, activity in left pLPFC tracks improvements in response selection efficiency typically observed following training (Dux et al., 2009). To date, however, there has been no causal evidence that pLPFC contributes directly to sensory-motor training effects, or the operations through which training occurs. Moreover, the left hemisphere lateralization of this operation remains controversial (Jiang and Kanwisher, 2003; Sigman and Dehaene, 2008; Verbruggen et al., 2010). We used anodal (excitatory), cathodal (inhibitory), and sham transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to left and right pLPFC and measured participants' performance on high and low response selection load tasks after different amounts of training. Both anodal and cathodal stimulation of the left pLPFC disrupted training effects for the high load condition relative to sham. No disruption was found for the low load and right pLPFC stimulation conditions. The findings implicate the left pLPFC in both response selection and training effects. They also suggest that training improves response selection efficiency by fine-tuning activity in pLPFC relating to sensory-motor translations.

MeSH Terms (17)

Adult Analysis of Variance Color Perception Decision Making Electroencephalography Evoked Potentials Female Functional Laterality Humans Learning Male Photic Stimulation Prefrontal Cortex Psychomotor Performance Reaction Time Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Young Adult

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