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Neuroimage. 2009 May 15;46(1):338-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.01.064. Epub 2009 Feb 11.

Left, but not right, rostrolateral prefrontal cortex meets a stringent test of the relational integration hypothesis.

Author information

  • 1Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California at Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. sbunge@berkeley.edu

Abstract

Much of what is known about the function of human rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC; lateral Brodmann area 10) has been pieced together from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies over the past decade. Christoff and colleagues previously reported on an fMRI localizer task involving relational integration that reliably engages RLPFC in individual participants (Smith, R., Keramatian, K., and Christoff, K. (2007). Localizing the rostrolateral prefrontal cortex at the individual level. NeuroImage, 36(4), 1387-1396). Here, we report on a modified version of this task that better controls for lower-level processing demands in the relational integration condition. Using identical stimulus arrays for our experimental and control conditions, we find that right RLPFC is sensitive to increasing relational processing demands, without being engaged specifically during relational integration. By contrast, left RLPFC is engaged only when participants must consider the higher-order relationship between two individual relations. We argue that the integration of disparate mental relations by left RLPFC is a fundamental process that supports higher-level cognition in humans.

PMID:
19457362
PMCID:
PMC2864011
DOI:
10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.01.064
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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