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Neuroimage. 2003 Feb;18(2):367-74.

Frontostriatal system in planning complexity: a parametric functional magnetic resonance version of Tower of London task.

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Department of Psychiatry, Clinical PET Centre, VU Medical Centre, PO Box 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In the present study, we sought to investigate which brain structures are recruited in planning tasks of increasing complexity. For this purpose, a parametric self-paced pseudo-randomized event-related functional MRI version of the Tower of London task was designed. We tested 22 healthy subjects, enabling assessment of imaging results at a second (random effects) level of analysis. Compared with baseline, planning activity was correlated with increased blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, striatum, premotor cortex, supplementary motor area, and visuospatial system (precuneus and inferior parietal cortex). Task load was associated with increased activity in these same regions. In addition, increasing task complexity was correlated with activity in the left anterior prefrontal cortex, a region supposed to be specifically involved in third-order higher cognitive functioning.

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