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      Attention for speaking: domain-general control from the anterior cingulate cortex in spoken word production

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          Accumulating evidence suggests that some degree of attentional control is required to regulate and monitor processes underlying speaking. Although progress has been made in delineating the neural substrates of the core language processes involved in speaking, substrates associated with regulatory and monitoring processes have remained relatively underspecified. We report the results of an fMRI study examining the neural substrates related to performance in three attention-demanding tasks varying in the amount of linguistic processing: vocal picture naming while ignoring distractors (picture-word interference, PWI); vocal color naming while ignoring distractors (Stroop); and manual object discrimination while ignoring spatial position (Simon task). All three tasks had congruent and incongruent stimuli, while PWI and Stroop also had neutral stimuli. Analyses focusing on common activation across tasks identified a portion of the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) that was active in incongruent trials for all three tasks, suggesting that this region subserves a domain-general attentional control function. In the language tasks, this area showed increased activity for incongruent relative to congruent stimuli, consistent with the involvement of domain-general mechanisms of attentional control in word production. The two language tasks also showed activity in anterior-superior temporal gyrus (STG). Activity increased for neutral PWI stimuli (picture and word did not share the same semantic category) relative to incongruent (categorically related) and congruent stimuli. This finding is consistent with the involvement of language-specific areas in word production, possibly related to retrieval of lexical-semantic information from memory. The current results thus suggest that in addition to engaging language-specific areas for core linguistic processes, speaking also engages the ACC, a region that is likely implementing domain-general attentional control.

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          Most cited references 59

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          The attention system of the human brain.

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            The role of the medial frontal cortex in cognitive control.

            Adaptive goal-directed behavior involves monitoring of ongoing actions and performance outcomes, and subsequent adjustments of behavior and learning. We evaluate new findings in cognitive neuroscience concerning cortical interactions that subserve the recruitment and implementation of such cognitive control. A review of primate and human studies, along with a meta-analysis of the human functional neuroimaging literature, suggest that the detection of unfavorable outcomes, response errors, response conflict, and decision uncertainty elicits largely overlapping clusters of activation foci in an extensive part of the posterior medial frontal cortex (pMFC). A direct link is delineated between activity in this area and subsequent adjustments in performance. Emerging evidence points to functional interactions between the pMFC and the lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC), so that monitoring-related pMFC activity serves as a signal that engages regulatory processes in the LPFC to implement performance adjustments.
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              Primate anterior cingulate cortex: where motor control, drive and cognition interface.

               T. Paus (2001)
              Controversy surrounds the function of the anterior cingulate cortex. Recent discussions about its role in behavioural control have centred on three main issues: its involvement in motor control, its proposed role in cognition and its relationship with the arousal/drive state of the organism. I argue that the overlap of these three domains is key to distinguishing the anterior cingulate cortex from other frontal regions, placing it in a unique position to translate intentions to actions.

                Author and article information

                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front Hum Neurosci
                Front. Hum. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                09 December 2013
                : 7
                1Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen Nijmegen, Netherlands
                2International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences Nijmegen, Netherlands
                3Neurobiology of Language Department, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics Nijmegen, Netherlands
                4Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen Nijmegen, Netherlands
                Author notes

                Edited by: Greig I. De Zubicaray, University of Queensland, Australia

                Reviewed by: F-Xavier Alario, CNRS and AixMarseille Université, France; Stefan Heim, RWTH Aachen University, Germany

                *Correspondence: Vitória Piai, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Centre for Cognition, Radboud University Nijmegen, Montessorilaan 3 B.01.05, Nijmegen 6525 HR, Netherlands e-mail: v.piai@ 123456donders.ru.nl

                This article was submitted to the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

                Copyright © 2013 Piai, Roelofs, Acheson and Takashima.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 7, Equations: 0, References: 86, Pages: 14, Words: 11909
                Original Research Article


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