The ACC, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and the parietal cortex near/along the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) are members of a network subserving attentional control. Our recent study revealed that these regions participate in both response anticipation and conflict processing. However, little is known about the relative contribution of these regions in attentional control and how the dynamic interactions among these regions are modulated by detection of predicted versus unpredicted targets and conflict processing. Here, we examined effective connectivity using dynamic causal modeling among these three regions during a flanker task with or without a target onset cue. We compared various models in which different connections among ACC, DLPFC, and IPS were modulated by bottom–up stimulus-driven surprise and top–down conflict processing using Bayesian model selection procedures. The most optimal of these models incorporated contextual modulation that allowed processing of unexpected (surprising) targets to mediate the influence of the IPS over ACC and DLPFC and conflict processing to mediate the influence of ACC and DLPFC over the IPS. This result suggests that the IPS plays an initiative role in this network in the processing of surprise targets, whereas ACC and DLPFC interact with each other to resolve conflict through attentional modulation implemented via the IPS.

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