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Neuron. 2006 Dec 21;52(6):1109-20.

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

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Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neurosciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA.


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.

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