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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e36089. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036089. Epub 2012 May 1.

Neuroimaging evidence for processes underlying repetition of ignored stimuli.

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Cognitive Neuro Science at the Centre for Psychiatry, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany.


Prolonged response times are observed with targets having been presented as distractors immediately before, called negative priming effect. Among others, inhibitory and retrieval processes have been suggested underlying this behavioral effect. As those processes would involve different neural activation patterns, a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study including 28 subjects was conducted. Two tasks were used to investigate stimulus repetition effects. One task focused on target location, the other on target identity. Both tasks are known to elicit the expected response time effects. However, there is less agreement about the relationship of those tasks with the explanatory accounts under consideration. Based on within-subject comparisons we found clear differences between the experimental repetition conditions and the neutral control condition on neural level for both tasks. Hemodynamic fronto-striatal activation patterns occurred for the location-based task favoring the selective inhibition account. Hippocampal activation found for the identity-based task suggests an assignment to the retrieval account; however, this task lacked a behavioral effect.

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