At the heart of the ventral attention system: the right anterior insula.
ABSTRACT: The anterior insula has been hypothesized to provide a link between attention-related problem solving and salience systems during the coordination and evaluation of task performance. Here, we test the hypothesis that the anterior insula/medial frontal operculum (aI/fO) provides linkage across systems supporting task demands and attention systems by examining the patterns of functional connectivity during word recognition and spatial attention functional imaging tasks. A shared set of frontal regions (right aI/fO, right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, bilateral anterior cingulate) were engaged, regardless of perceptual domain (auditory or visual) or mode of response (word production or button press). We present novel evidence that: (1) the right aI/fO is functionally connected with other frontal regions implicated in executive function and not just brain regions responsive to stimulus salience; and (2) that the aI/fO, but not the ACC, exhibits significantly correlated activity with other brain regions specifically engaged by tasks with varying perceptual and behavioral demands. These results support the hypothesis that the right aI/fO aids in the coordination and evaluation of task performance across behavioral tasks with varying perceptual and response demands.
Project description:Sustained blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signal in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex/medial superior frontal cortex (dACC/msFC) and bilateral anterior insula/frontal operculum (aI/fO) is found in a broad majority of tasks examined and is believed to function as a putative task set maintenance signal. For example, a meta-analysis investigating task-control signals identified the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula as exhibiting sustained activity across a variety of task types. Re-analysis of tasks included in that meta-analysis showed exceptions, suggesting that tasks where the information necessary to determine a response was present in the stimulus (i.e., perceptually driven) does not show strong sustained cingulo-opercular activity. In a new experiment, we tested the generality of this observation while addressing alternative explanations about sustained cingulo-opercular activity (including task difficulty and verbal vs. non-verbal task demands). A new, difficult, perceptually driven task was compared with 2 new tasks that depended on information beyond that provided by the stimulus. The perceptually driven task showed a lack of cingulo-opercular activity in contrast to the 2 newly constructed tasks. This finding supports the idea that sustained cingulo-opercular activity contributes to maintenance of task set in only a subset of tasks.
Project description:Patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) show abnormal functioning in ventral frontal brain regions involved in emotional/motivational processes, including anterior insula/frontal operculum (aI/fO) and ventromedial frontal cortex (VMPFC). While OCD has been associated with an increased neural response to errors, the influence of motivational factors on this effect remains poorly understood.To investigate the contribution of motivational factors to error processing in OCD and to examine functional connectivity between regions involved in the error response, functional magnetic resonance imaging data were measured in 39 OCD patients (20 unmedicated, 19 medicated) and 38 control subjects (20 unmedicated, 18 medicated) during an error-eliciting interference task where motivational context was varied using monetary incentives (null, loss, and gain).Across all errors, OCD patients showed reduced deactivation of VMPFC and greater activation in left aI/FO compared with control subjects. For errors specifically resulting in a loss, patients further hyperactivated VMPFC, as well as right aI/FO. Independent of activity associated with task events, OCD patients showed greater functional connectivity between VMPFC and regions of bilateral aI/FO and right thalamus.Obsessive-compulsive disorder patients show greater activation in neural regions associated with emotion and valuation when making errors, which could be related to altered intrinsic functional connectivity between brain networks. These results highlight the importance of emotional/motivational responses to mistakes in OCD and point to the need for further study of network interactions in the disorder.
Project description:To characterize the development of neural substrate for interference processing and task control, this study examined both linear and non-linear effects of age on activation and connectivity during an interference task designed to engage the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC). Seventy-two youth, ages 8-19years, performed the Multi-Source Interference Task (MSIT) during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). With increasing age, overall performance across high-interference incongruent and low-interference congruent trials became faster and more accurate. Effects of age on activation to interference- (incongruent versus congruent conditions), error- (errors versus correct trials during the incongruent condition) and overall task-processing (incongruent plus congruent conditions, relative to implicit baseline) were tested in whole-brain voxel-wise analyses. Age differentially impacted activation to overall task processing in discrete sub-regions of the pMFC: activation in the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) decreased with age, whereas activation in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) followed a non-linear (i.e., U-shaped) pattern in relation to age. In addition, connectivity of pre-SMA with anterior insula/frontal operculum (AI/FO) increased with age. These findings suggest differential development of pre-SMA and dACC sub-regions within the pMFC. Moreover, as children age, decreases in pre-SMA activation may couple with increases in pre-SMA-AI/FO connectivity to support gains in processing speed in response to demands for task control.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Abnormal engagement of the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC) occurs during performance monitoring in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), including in pediatric patients. Yet, the development of pMFC function in OCD-affected youth remains poorly understood. METHOD:A total of 69 patients with pediatric OCD and 72 healthy controls (HC), 8 to 19 years of age, were scanned during the Multisource Interference Task (MSIT). The effects of group, age, performance, and interactions on pMFC response to errors and interference were tested in the region of interest [ROI]) and whole-brain analyses. Secondary analyses considered bilateral anterior insula/frontal operculum (aI/fO), given the contribution of these regions with pMFC to a cingulo-opercular network (CON) for task control (e.g., error and interference processing). RESULTS:Error-related pMFC activity was greater for OCD patients than for HC, increased with age in OCD patients, but decreased with age in HC. Greater pMFC activation associated with better performance in HC but not OCD patients. In the patients, greater pMFC activation to errors was associated with lower OCD severity. Altered error-related activation and performance associations were also observed in the right aI/fO in OCD patients, whereas the left aI/fO response to interference was associated with lower OCD severity. CONCLUSION:Atypical increase in error-related pMFC activation with age in pediatric OCD suggests altered development of pMFC function during the early course of illness. Greater pMFC activation with better performance in HC, and with age and lower symptom severity in OCD patients, suggests an adaptive function of heightened pMFC response to errors that could be further enhanced (e.g., via cognitive training) to improve outcomes in OCD from the early course of illness.
Project description:Sensory cortices can be activated without any external stimuli. Yet, it is still unclear how this perceptual reactivation occurs and which neural structures mediate this reconstruction process. In this study, we employed fMRI with mental imagery paradigms to investigate the neural networks involved in perceptual reactivation. Subjects performed two speech imagery tasks: articulation imagery (AI) and hearing imagery (HI). We found that AI induced greater activity in frontal-parietal sensorimotor systems, including sensorimotor cortex, subcentral (BA 43), middle frontal cortex (BA 46) and parietal operculum (PO), whereas HI showed stronger activation in regions that have been implicated in memory retrieval: middle frontal (BA 8), inferior parietal cortex and intraparietal sulcus. Moreover, posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) and anterior superior temporal gyrus (aSTG) was activated more in AI compared with HI, suggesting that covert motor processes induced stronger perceptual reactivation in the auditory cortices. These results suggest that motor-to-perceptual transformation and memory retrieval act as two complementary mechanisms to internally reconstruct corresponding perceptual outcomes. These two mechanisms can serve as a neurocomputational foundation for predicting perceptual changes, either via a previously learned relationship between actions and their perceptual consequences or via stored perceptual experiences of stimulus and episodic or contextual regularity.
Project description:Impaired ability to shift attention between stimuli (i.e. shifting attentional 'set') is a well-established part of the dysexecutive syndrome in Parkinson's Disease (PD), nevertheless cognitive and neural bases of this deficit remain unclear. In this study, an fMRI-optimised variant of a classic paradigm for assessing attentional control (Hampshire and Owen 2006) was used to contrast activity in dissociable executive circuits in early-stage PD patients and controls. The results demonstrated that the neural basis of the executive performance impairments in PD is accompanied by hypoactivation within the striatum, anterior cingulate cortex (vACC), and inferior frontal sulcus (IFS) regions. By contrast, in aging it is associated with hypoactivation of the anterior insula/inferior frontal operculum (AI/FO) and the pre-supplementary motor area (preSMA). Between group behavioural differences were also observed; whereas normally aging individuals exhibited routine-problem solving deficits, PD patients demonstrated more global task learning deficits. These findings concur with recent research demonstrating model-based reinforcement learning deficits in PD and provide evidence that the AI/FO and IFS circuits are differentially impacted by PD and normal aging.
Project description:Ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTCD) is an X-chromosome linked urea cycle disorder (UCD) that causes hyperammonemic episodes leading to white matter injury and impairments in executive functioning, working memory, and motor planning. This study aims to investigate differences in functional connectivity of two resting-state networks--default mode and set-maintenance--between OTCD patients and healthy controls.Sixteen patients with partial OTCD and twenty-two control participants underwent a resting-state scan using 3T fMRI. Combining independent component analysis (ICA) and region-of-interest (ROI) analyses, we identified the nodes that comprised each network in each group, and assessed internodal connectivity.Group comparisons revealed reduced functional connectivity in the default mode network (DMN) of OTCD patients, particularly between the anterior cingulate cortex/medial prefrontal cortex (ACC/mPFC) node and bilateral inferior parietal lobule (IPL), as well as between the ACC/mPFC node and the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) node. Patients also showed reduced connectivity in the set-maintenance network, especially between right anterior insula/frontal operculum (aI/fO) node and bilateral superior frontal gyrus (SFG), as well as between the right aI/fO and ACC and between the ACC and right SFG.Internodal functional connectivity in the DMN and set-maintenance network is reduced in patients with partial OTCD compared to controls, most likely due to hyperammonemia-related white matter damage. Because several of the affected areas are involved in executive functioning, it is postulated that this reduced connectivity is an underlying cause of the deficits OTCD patients display in this cognitive domain.
Project description:Emotional experience involves an integrated interplay between processing of external emotional cues and interoceptive feedback, and this is impaired in a number of emotional disorders. The neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) enhances the salience of external social cues but its influence on interoception is unknown. The present pharmaco-fMRI study therefore investigated whether OT enhances interoceptive awareness and if it influences the interplay between interoceptive and salience processing. In a randomized, double-blind, between-subject, design study 83 subjects received either intranasal OT or placebo. In Experiment 1, subjects performed a heartbeat detection task alone, while in Experiment 2 they did so while viewing both neutral and emotional face stimuli. Interoceptive accuracy and neural responses in interoceptive and salience networks were measured. In Experiment 1, OT had no significant influence on interoceptive accuracy or associated activity in the right anterior insula (AI) and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. However, in Experiment 2 when face stimuli were also presented, OT decreased interoceptive accuracy and increased right AI activation and its functional connectivity with the left posterior insula (PI), with the latter both being negatively correlated with accuracy scores. The present study provides the first evidence that while OT does not influence processing of interoceptive cues per se it may switch attention away from them towards external salient social cues by enhancing right AI responses and its control over the PI. Thus OT may help regulate the interplay between interoceptive and external salience processing within the insula and could be of potential therapeutic benefit for emotional disorders.
Project description:This study examined the effects of linguistic task demands on the neuroanatomical localization of the neural response related to automatic semantic processing of concrete German nouns combining the associative priming paradigm with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). To clarify the functional role of the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) for semantic processing with respect to semantic decision making compared to semantic processing per se, we used a linguistic task that involved either a binary decision process (i.e., semantic categorization; Experiment 1) or not (i.e., silently thinking about a word's meaning; Experiment 2). We observed associative priming effects indicated as neural suppression in bilateral superior temporal gyri (STG), anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), occipito-temporal brain areas, and in medial frontal brain areas independently of the linguistic task. Inferior parietal brain areas were more active for silently thinking about a word's meaning compared to semantic categorization. A conjunction analysis of linguistic task revealed that both tasks activated the same left-lateralized occipito-temporo-frontal network including the IFG. Contrasting neural associative priming effects across linguistic task demands, we found a significant interaction in the right IFG. The present fMRI data give rise to the assumption that activation of the left inferior frontal gyrus (LIFG) in the semantic domain might be important for semantic processing in general and not only for semantic decision making. These findings contrast with a recent study regarding the role of the LIFG for binary decision making in the lexical domain (Wright et al. 2011).
Project description:It has been shown that as cognitive demands of a non-emotional task increase, amygdala response to task-irrelevant emotional stimuli is reduced. However, it remains unclear whether effects are due to altered task demands, or altered perceptual input associated with task demands. Here, we present fMRI data from 20 adult males during a novel cognitive conflict task in which the requirement to scan emotional information was necessary for task performance and held constant across levels of cognitive conflict. Response to fearful facial expressions was attenuated under high (vs low) conflict conditions, as indexed by both slower reaction times and reduced right amygdala response. Psychophysiological interaction analysis showed that increased amygdala response to fear in the low conflict condition was accompanied by increased functional coupling with middle frontal gyrus, a prefrontal region previously associated with emotion regulation during cognitive task performance. These data suggest that amygdala response to emotion is modulated as a function of task demands, even when perceptual inputs are closely matched across load conditions. PPI data also show that, in particular emotional contexts, increased functional coupling of amygdala with prefrontal cortex can paradoxically occur when executive demands are lower.