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Master planners in brain may coordinate other areas' roles in cognitive tasks

idn't find what they expected," he says. "But it's a huge dataset, and the results were very clear."

For example, one brain area thought likely to be active in creating task sets, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, did not become active as consistently as the cingulate and the opercula.

"We're not implying that this region isn't important," Petersen says. "In this study, though, it just didn't come up as consistently as the cingulate and the opercula."

Although many of the tasks in the eight studies were language-related (reading a word or naming verbs associated with a given noun, such as "bark" for "dog"), some were not. Subjects in one study had to tap their fingers in time to a rhythm. Another group had to judge the orientation of lines. A third group was asked to match short graphic squiggles. The non-linguistic tasks produced the same results, according to Petersen.

Petersen and his colleagues plan follow-up studies to further understand the roles of the cingulate and the opercula in creating task sets and to see if these regions have similar roles in children of various ages. They are also planning to use a new type of functional brain imaging to look at the connections between other brain areas and the cingulate and the opercula.


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Source:Washington University School of Medicine


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