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Neuroscience. 2015 Jan 29;285:227-35. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.11.024. Epub 2014 Nov 20.

Performance monitoring and behavioral adaptation during task switching: an fMRI study.

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Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, D-23538 Lübeck, Germany. Electronic address:
Department of Neurology, Otto-von-Guericke University, Leipziger Strasse 44, D-39120 Magdeburg, Germany.
Department of Neurology, University of Lübeck, Ratzeburger Allee 160, D-23538 Lübeck, Germany.


Despite significant advances, the neural correlates and neurochemical mechanisms involved in performance monitoring and behavioral adaptation are still a matter for debate. Here, we used a modified Eriksen-Flanker task in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study that required the participants to derive the correct stimulus-response association based on a feedback given after each flanker stimulus. Participants had to continuously monitor and adapt their performance as the stimulus-response association switched after a jittered time interval without notice. After every switch an increase of reaction times was observed. At the neural level, the feedback indicating the need to switch was associated with activation of the precuneus, the cingulate cortex, the insula and a brainstem region tentatively identified as the locus coeruleus. This brainstem system appears to interact with this cortical network and seems to be essential for performance monitoring and behavioral adaptation. In contrast, the cerebellum crus and prefrontal areas are activated during error feedback processing. Furthermore we found activations of the hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus bilaterally after a correct feedback in learnable stimulus-response associations. These results highlight the contribution of brainstem nuclei to performance adaptation.


ACC; fMRI; hippocampus; locus coeruleus; performance monitoring; task switching

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