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Neuroimage. 2005 Jan 1;24(1):181-91.

Functional connectivity during Stroop task performance.

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Brain Sciences Institute, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.


Using covariance-based multivariate analysis, we examined patterns of functional connectivity in rCBF on a practice-extended version of the Stroop color-word paradigm. Color-word congruent and incongruent conditions were presented in six AB trials to healthy subjects during 12 H2(15)O PET scans. Analyses identified two reproducible canonical eigenimages (CE) from the PET data, which were converted to a standard Z score scale after cross-validation resampling and correction for random subject effects. The first CE corresponded to practice-dependent changes in covarying rCBF that occurred over early task repetitions and correlated with improved behavioral performance. This included many regions previously implicated by PET and fMRI studies of this task, which we suggest may represent two "parallel" networks: (i) a cingulo-frontal system that was initially engaged in selecting and mapping a task-relevant response (color naming) when the attentional demands of the task were greatest; and (ii) a ventral visual processing stream whose concurrent decrease in activity represented the task-irrelevant inhibition of word reading. The second CE corresponded to a consistent paradigmatic effect of Stroop interference on covarying rCBF. Coactivations were located in dorsal and ventral prefrontal regions as well as frontopolar cortex. This pattern supports existing evidence that prefrontal regions are involved in maintaining attentional control over conflicting response systems. Taken together, these findings may be more in line with theoretical models that emphasize a role for practice in the emergence of Stroop phenomena. These findings may also provide some additional insight into the nature of anterior cingulate- and prefrontal cortical contributions to implementing cognitive control in the brain.

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