Task processing (e.g., the preparation and execution of responses) and task representation (e.g., the activation and maintenance of stimulus–response and context information) are two facets of cognitive control supported by lateral frontal cortex (LFC). However, the mechanistic overlap (or distinction) between these two facets is unknown. We explored this by combining a complex task mapping with a precueing procedure. Participants made match/nonmatch judgments on pairs of stimuli during fMRI recording. Precues on each trial gave variable amounts of information to the participant in anticipation of the stimulus. Our results demonstrated that regions throughout LFC were more active at the stimulus (when responses could be executed) than at the cue (when they could only be prepared), indicating that they supported execution of the task agnostic to the specific task representation. A subset of regions in the left caudal LFC showed increased activity with more cue information at the cue and the reverse at the stimulus, suggesting their involvement in reducing uncertainty within the task representation. These results suggest that one component of task processing is preparing and executing the task according to the relevant representation, confined to left caudal LFC, whereas nonrepresentational functions that occur primarily during execution are supported by different regions throughout the rest of LFC. We further conducted an exploratory investigation of connectivity between the two groups of regions in this study and their potential relationship to the frontoparietal and cingulo-opercular networks. Regions with both patterns of activity appear to be part of the frontoparietal network.

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