This narrative review addresses the neural bases of two executive functions: criterion setting, that is, the capacity to flexibly set up and select task rules and associations between stimuli, responses, and nonresponses, and monitoring, that is, the process of continuously evaluating whether task rules are being applied optimally. There is a documented tendency for criterion setting and monitoring to differentially recruit left and right lateral prefrontal regions and connected networks, respectively, above and beyond the specific task context. This model, known as the ROtman–Baycrest Battery to Investigate Attention (ROBBIA) model, initially sprung from extensive neuropsychological work led by Don Stuss. In subsequent years, multimodal lines of empirical investigation on both healthy individuals and patients with brain damage, coming from functional neuroimaging, EEG, neurostimulation, individual difference approaches, and, again, neuropsychology, so to “complete the circle,” corroborated the functional mapping across the two hemispheres as predicted by the model. More recent electrophysiological evidence has further shown that hemispheric differences in intrinsic prefrontal dynamics are able to predict cognitive performance in tasks tapping these domain-general functions. These empirical contributions will be presented together with contrasting evidence, limits, and possible future directions to better fine-tune this model and extend its scope to new fields.

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