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J Comp Neurol. 2019 Oct 31. doi: 10.1002/cne.24804. [Epub ahead of print]

The functional anatomy of cognitive control: A domain-general brain network for uncertainty processing.

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Department of Psychology, Queens College, The City University of New York, Queens, New York.
Guangdong Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Cognitive Science, Center for Studies of Psychological Application, School of Psychology, South China Normal University, Guangzhou, China.
Department of Psychology, Columbia University in the City of New York, New York, New York.
Faculty of Psychology, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin, China.
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois.
Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Affective and Social Neuroscience, Center for Brain Disorders and Cognitive Neuroscience, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China.
CAS Key Laboratory of Behavioral Science, Institute of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Nash Family Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York.


Cognitive control is the coordination of mental operations under conditions of uncertainty in accordance with goal-directed behaviors, and plays a key role in the domains of executive control, working memory, and decision-making. Although there is emerging evidence of common involvement of the cognitive control network (CCN) of the brain in these domains, this network has mostly been linked to the processing of conflict, which is just one case of an increase in uncertainty. Here, we conducted an activation-likelihood-estimation-based large-scale meta-analysis of 289 functional magnetic resonance imaging studies in the three domains to examine the common involvement of the CCN in uncertainty processing by contrasting the high-uncertainty versus low-uncertainty conditions. We found a general association between increase in uncertainty and an activation increase in regions of the CCN, including the frontoparietal network (comprising the frontal eye fields, the areas near and along the intraparietal sulcus, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), the cingulo-opercular network (including the anterior cingulate cortex extending to the supplementary motor area, and the anterior insular cortex), and a subcortical structure (the striatum). These results demonstrate that the CCN is a domain-general construct underlying uncertainty processing to support goal-directed behaviors.


RRID: SCR_014921; cognitive control; cognitive control network; decision-making; executive control; meta-analysis; working memory


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