Parsing the roles of the frontal lobes and basal ganglia in task control using multivoxel pattern analysis

Angie Kehagia*, Rong Ye, Daniel Joyce, Orla Doyle, James B. Rowe, Trevor W. Robbins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
311 Downloads (Pure)


Cognitive control has traditionally been associated with pFC based on observations of deficits in patients with frontal lesions. However, evidence from patients with Parkinson disease indicates that subcortical regions also contribute to control under certain conditions. We scanned 17 healthy volunteers while they performed a task-switching paradigm that previously dissociated performance deficits arising from frontal lesions in comparison with Parkinson disease, as a function of the abstraction of the rules that are switched. From a multivoxel pattern analysis by Gaussian Process Classification, we then estimated the forward (generative) model to infer regional patterns of activity that predict Switch/Repeat behavior between rule conditions. At 1000 permutations, Switch/Repeat classification accuracy for concrete rules was significant in the BG, but at chance in the frontal lobe. The inverse pattern was obtained for abstract rules, whereby the conditions were successfully discriminated in the frontal lobe but not in the BG. This double dissociation highlights the difference between cortical and subcortical contributions to cognitive control and demonstrates the utility of multivariate approaches in investigations of functions that rely on distributed and overlapping neural substrates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1390-1401
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number8
Early online date29 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


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