This study aimed to trace the neural basis of proactive and preemptive adjustments of executive control and their effects on online processing of response conflict. In two EEG experiments, participants performed the flanker task with predictive cueing of conflict. The following questions were addressed: “Does conflict cueing improve performance?” We observed improved behavioral performance in the predictive condition, suggesting that participants proactively utilized the cues to prepare for the upcoming demands. “How is conflict processing affected by predictive cueing?” Conflict-related modulations of midfrontal N2 and theta power were smaller in the predictive than in the neutral condition. This suggests that proactive control suppressed the impact of incongruent flankers so that the conflict was reduced, and so was the involvement of online control. “Is proactive control implemented through preactivation of online control?” Conflict cueing increased midfrontal theta power also before target onset, suggesting preactivation of the control processes beforehand. “Do proactive and reactive control depend on common or unique processes?” Unlike the online control, the proactive control triggered a burst of theta power in the right hemisphere's dorsal and ventral lateral prefrontal cortices, connected with the midfrontal area via theta phase coherence. This indicates that the two control modes involve partially unique but coordinated neural processes. “Is preemptive control implemented through modulations of visual processing?” Predictive cueing modulated both the pretarget preparatory alpha desynchronization and the target selection-related posterior contralateral negativity (N2pc and sustained posterior contralateral negativity), in line with the hypothesis of preemptive tuning of sensory selection aimed at reducing the impact of conflicting stimuli.

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