Cognitive conflict, like other cognitive processes, shows the characteristic of adaptation, that is, conflict effects are attenuated when immediately following a conflicting event, a phenomenon known as the conflict adaptation effect (CAE). One important aspect of CAE is its sensitivity to the intertrial coherence of conflict type, that is, behavioral CAE occurs only if consecutive trials are of the same conflict type. Although reliably observed behaviorally, the neural mechanisms underlying such a phenomenon remains elusive. With a paradigm combining the classic Simon task and Stroop task, this fMRI study examined neural correlates of conflict adaptation both within and across conflict types. The results revealed that when the conflict type repeated (but not when it alternated), the CAE-like neural activations were observed in dorsal ACC, inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), superior parietal lobe, and so forth (i.e., regions within typical task-positive networks). In contrast, when the conflict type alternated (but not when it repeated), we found CAE-like neural deactivations in the left superior frontal gyri (i.e., a region within the typical task-negative network). Network analyses suggested that the regions of ACC, IFG, superior parietal lobe, and superior frontal gyrus can be clustered into two antagonistic networks, and the ACC–IFG connection was associated with the within-type CAE. This evidence suggests that our adaptation to cognitive conflicts within a conflict type and across different types may rely on these two distinct neural mechanisms.

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