Abstract

Cognitive control allows us to adjust to environmental changes. The medial frontal cortex (MFC) is thought to detect conflicts and recruit additional resources from other brain areas including the lateral prefrontal cortices. Here we investigated how the MFC acts in concert with visual, motor, and lateral prefrontal cortices to support adaptations of goal-directed behavior. Physiologically, these interactions may occur through local and long-range synchronized oscillation dynamics, particularly in the theta range (4–8 Hz). A speeded flanker task allowed us to investigate conflict-type-specific control networks for perceptual and response conflicts. Theta power over MFC was sensitive to both perceptual and response conflict. Interareal theta phase synchrony, however, indicated a selective enhancement specific for response conflicts between MFC and left frontal cortex as well as between MFC and the presumed motor cortex contralateral to the response hand. These findings suggest that MFC theta-band activity is both generally involved in conflict processing and specifically involved in linking a neural network controlling response conflict.

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