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Neurosci Lett. 2009 Dec 25;467(2):76-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.10.005. Epub 2009 Oct 7.

Distinct control networks for cognition and emotion in the prefrontal cortex.

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Department of Radiation Sciences, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.


The activation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) has been suggested to reflect the engagement of a control mechanism for top-down biasing of context processing in resource-demanding memory tasks. Here we tested the hypothesis that the dlPFC subserves a similar function also in attention and emotion tasks. 18 healthy young adults were tested in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study where the demands for context processing were manipulated in three different cognitive domains: auditory attention, episodic retrieval, and emotion regulation. We found that the right dlPFC was jointly sensitive to increased cognitive demands in the attention and memory tasks. By contrast, increased demands in the emotion task (reappraisal) were associated with increased activity in ventromedial PFC along with decreased amygdala activity. Our findings of divergent prefrontal control networks for cognitive and emotional control extend previous separations of cognition and emotion in the anterior cingulate cortex.

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