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Author: Christine Stelzel (28)


Feb
2018

Delaying intentions bears the risk of interference from distracting activities during the delay interval. Motivation can increase intention retrieval success but little is known about the underlying brain mechanisms. Here, we investigated whether motivational incentives (monetary reward) modulate the processing of delayed intentions in the anterior prefrontal cortex (aPFC), known to be crucial for intention processing.

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Dec
2017

Self-control and the ability to resist temptation are critical for successful completion of long-term goals. Contemporary models in cognitive neuroscience emphasize the primary role of prefrontal cognitive control networks in aligning behavior with such goals. Here, we use gaze pattern analysis and dynamic functional connectivity fMRI data to explore how individual differences in the ability to resist temptation are related to intrinsic brain dynamics of the cognitive control and salience networks.

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Dec
1969

Age-related decline in executive functions and postural control due to degenerative processes in the central nervous system have been related to increased fall-risk in old age. Many studies have shown cognitive-postural dual-task interference in old adults, but research on the role of specific executive functions in this context has just begun. In this study, we addressed the question whether postural control is impaired depending on the coordination of concurrent response-selection processes related to the compatibility of input and output modality mappings as compared to impairments related to working-memory load in the comparison of cognitive dual and single tasks.

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Dec
1969

Working memory (WM) performance declines with age. However, several studies have shown that WM training may lead to performance increases not only in the trained task, but also in untrained cognitive transfer tasks. It has been suggested that transfer effects occur if training task and transfer task share specific processing components that are supposedly processed in the same brain areas.

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Nov
2016

Our brain continuously evaluates different perceptual interpretations of the available sensory data in order to enable flexible updates of conscious experience. Individuals' perceptual flexibility can be assessed using ambiguous stimuli that cause our perception to continuously switch between two mutually exclusive interpretations. Neural processes underlying perceptual switching are thought to involve the visual cortex, but also non-sensory brain circuits that have been implicated in cognitive processes, such as frontal and parietal regions.

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Dec
1969

Self-control can be defined as the ability to exert control over ones impulses. Currently, most research in the area relies on self-report. Focusing on attentional control processes involved in self-control, we modified a spatial selective attentional cueing task to test three domains of self-control experimentally in one task using aversive, tempting, and neutral picture-distractors.

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Jul
2016

As indicated by previous research, aging is associated with a decline in working memory (WM) functioning, related to alterations in fronto-parietal neural activations. At the same time, previous studies showed that WM training in older adults may improve the performance in the trained task (training effect), and more importantly, also in untrained WM tasks (transfer effects). However, neural correlates of these transfer effects that would improve understanding of its underlying mechanisms, have not been shown in older participants as yet.

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Dec
1969

Both self-control and emotion regulation enable individuals to adapt to external circumstances and social contexts, and both are assumed to rely on the overlapping neural resources. Here, we tested whether high self-reported self-control is related to successful emotion regulation on the behavioral and neural level. One hundred eight participants completed three self-control questionnaires and regulated their negative emotions during functional magnetic resonance imaging using reappraisal (distancing).

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May
2015

Attentional control in demanding cognitive tasks can be improved by manipulating the motivational state. Motivation to obtain gains and motivation to avoid losses both usually result in faster reaction times and stronger activation in relevant brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex, but little is known about differences in the underlying neurocognitive mechanisms of these types of motivation in an attentional control context. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we tested whether potential gain and loss as motivating incentives lead to overlapping or distinct neural effects in the attentional network, and whether one of these conditions is more effective than the other.

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Apr
2015

In alcohol-dependent patients, alcohol cues evoke increased activation in mesolimbic brain areas, such as the nucleus accumbens and the amygdala. Moreover, patients show an alcohol approach bias, a tendency to more quickly approach than avoid alcohol cues. Cognitive bias modification training, which aims to retrain approach biases, has been shown to reduce alcohol craving and relapse rates.

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Feb
2015

Previous studies suggest that both motivation and task difficulty expectations activate brain regions associated with cognitive control. However, it remains an open question whether motivational and cognitive determinants of control have similar or dissociable impacts on conflict processing on a neural level. The current study tested the effects of motivation and conflict expectancy on activity in regions related to processing of the target and the distractor information.

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Feb
2014

Behavioral studies have shown an alcohol-approach bias in alcohol-dependent patients: the automatic tendency to faster approach than avoid alcohol compared with neutral cues, which has been associated with craving and relapse. Although this is a well-studied psychological phenomenon, little is known about the brain processes underlying automatic action tendencies in addiction. We examined 20 alcohol-dependent patients and 17 healthy controls with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), while performing an implicit approach-avoidance task.

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Sep
2014

Hypnosis can affect perception, motor function and memory. However, so far no study using neuroimaging has investigated whether hypnosis can influence reward processing and decision-making. Here, we assessed whether posthypnotic suggestions can diminish the attractiveness of unhealthy food and whether this is more effective than diminishing attractiveness by one's own effort via autosuggestion.

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Sep
2014

Genetic and pharmacological studies suggest an important role of the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) in flexible behavioral adaptation, mostly shown in reward-based learning paradigms. Recent evidence from imaging genetics indicates that also intentional cognitive flexibility, associated with lateral frontal cortex, is affected by variations in DRD2 signaling. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study, we tested the effects of a direct pharmacological manipulation of DRD2 stimulation on intentional flexibility in a task-switching context, requiring switches between cognitive task rules and between response hands.

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Sep
2012

The present study investigates the effects of trait anxiety on the neural efficiency of working memory component functions (manipulation vs. maintenance) in the absence of threat-related stimuli. For the manipulation of affectively neutral verbal information held in working memory, high- and low-anxious individuals (N = 46) did not differ in their behavioral performance, yet trait anxiety was positively related to the neural effort expended on task processing, as measured by BOLD signal changes in fMRI.

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Nov
2011

Recent evidence suggests that the degree of interference in dual-task situations depends crucially on the pairings of input- and output modalities of the two component tasks with increased dual-task costs for modality incompatible (i.e., visual-vocal and auditory-manual) compared to modality compatible (i.

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Nov
2011

Task representations consist of different aspects such as the representations of the relevant stimuli, the abstract rules to be applied, and the actions to be performed. To be flexible in our daily lives, we frequently need to switch between some or all aspects of a task. In the present study, we examined whether switching between abstract task rules and switching between response hands is associated with overlapping regions in the posterior lateral frontal cortex and whether switching between these two aspects of a task representation is neurally implemented by distinct functional brain networks.

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Oct
2011

An impairment of attentional control in the face of threat-related distracters is well established for high-anxious individuals. Beyond that, it has been hypothesized that high trait anxiety more generally impairs the neural efficiency of cognitive processes requiring attentional control-even in the absence of threat-related stimuli. Here, we use fMRI to show that trait anxiety indeed modulates brain activation and functional connectivities between task-relevant brain regions in an affectively neutral Stroop task.

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Oct
2010

Recent studies suggest an association of dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) availability with flexibility in reward-based learning. We extend these results by demonstrating an association of genetically based differences in DRD2 density with the ability to intentionally switch between nonrewarded tasks: noncarriers of the A1 allele of the DRD2/ANKK1-TaqIa polymorphism, associated with higher DRD2 density, show increased task-switching costs, increased prefrontal switching activity in the inferior frontal junction area, and increased functional connectivity in dorsal frontostriatal circuits, relative to A1 allele carriers. A DRD2 haplotype analysis in the same sample confirmed these results, indicating an association between high D2 density and increased task-switching effort.

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Aug
2010

Mounting evidence shows that the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a crucial role in depression and anxiety. The discovery of a functional variant of the BDNF gene--the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism--led to new insights into the molecular genetic mechanisms underlying these emotional disorders. Although there is evidence from animal research that the homozygous BDNF 66Met variant is associated with anxiety-like behaviour, findings from personality research using self-report-measures as indicators of trait anxiety are heterogenous.

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Aug
2010

Mounting evidence from animal studies show that the mesolimbic dopaminergic pathways are modulated by the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This study investigates in N=768 healthy Caucasian participants the influence of two prominent functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the BDNF gene (BDNF Val66Met SNP) and the ankyrin repeat and kinase domain containing 1 (ANKK1) gene (DRD2 Taq Ia/ANKK1 SNP) on the personality traits of Novelty Seeking and Harm Avoidance, which are mediated, in part, through dopaminergic mesolimbic circuitry. Carriers of the 66Met+/A1+ variant scored lowest on Novelty Seeking and highest on Harm Avoidance, compared to all other genotype groups.

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Oct
2009

Little is known about how the human brain processes multiple relevant information streams competing for behavior. The present study aimed at specifying the interaction of the lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC) with task-relevant sensory brain regions during concurrent stimulus processing of two relevant stimuli (S1, S2) in a classical dual-task situation. In detail, we tested whether S1 processing is independent of the task relevance of S2 as has been hypothesised in cognitive theories on dual-task processing.

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Mar
2009

Dopamine modulates complex cognitive functions like working memory and cognitive control. It is widely accepted that an optimal level of prefrontal dopamine supports working memory performance. In the present study we used a molecular genetic approach to test whether the optimal activity of the dopamine system for different component processes of working memory is additionally related to the availability of dopamine D2 receptors.

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Sep
2008

Although the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) has been mainly investigated in the context of depression and anxiety disorders, several studies also suggest an association between BDNF and smoking. BDNF represents a protein which crucially influences several processes in the cell ranging from growth to apoptosis. A functional variant of the BDNF gene - the BDNF Val66Met polymorphism - is one of the main targets in BDNF research because of its influence on BDNF secretion.

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Apr
2008

The authors investigated the impact of response activation on dual-task performance by presenting a subliminal prime before the stimulus in Task 2 (S2) of a psychological refractory period (PRP) task. Congruence between prime and S2 modulated the reaction times in Task 2 at short stimulus onset asynchrony despite a PRP effect. This Task 2 congruence effect was paralleled by a Task 1 congruence effect and emerged exclusively under conditions of cross talk, whereas it did not occur under dual-task conditions preventing cross talk between tasks.

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Apr
2008

The functional relevance of the lateral prefrontal cortex (lPFC) for the ability to process two tasks simultaneously has been debated extensively in previous studies that employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of dual-task processing. In the present fMRI study, we shed new light on this debate by directly comparing the lPFC activity changes for two cognitive functions commonly associated with dual-task performance: task order control and task set maintenance. We manipulated both functions in a 2 x 2 integrated parametric design.

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Nov
2006

Recent fMRI studies suggest that the inferior frontal sulcus (IFS) is involved in the coordination of interfering processes in dual-task situations. The present study aims to further specify this assumption by investigating whether the compatibility between stimulus and response modalities modulates dual-task-related activity along the IFS. It has been shown behaviorally that the degree of interference, as measured by dual-task costs, increases in modality-incompatible conditions (e.

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Nov
2003

The influence of levels of abstraction in picture-word matching was examined. The items each consisted of one picture and three successively presented words. Hierarchies with words for superordinate, basic, and subordinate level concepts were used (e.

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