Abstract

For decades, a common assumption in cognitive neuroscience has been that prefrontal executive control is mainly engaged during target detection [Posner, M. I., & Petersen, S. E. The attention system of the human brain. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 13, 25–42, 1990]. More recently, predictive processing theories of frontal function under the Bayesian brain hypothesis emphasize a key role of proactive control for anticipatory action selection (i.e., planning as active inference). Here, we review evidence of fast and widespread EEG and magnetoencephalographic fronto-temporo-parietal cortical activations elicited by feedback cues and target cards in the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test. This evidence is best interpreted when considering negative and positive feedback as predictive cues (i.e., sensory outcomes) for proactively updating beliefs about unknown perceptual categories. Such predictive cues inform posterior beliefs about high-level hidden categories governing subsequent response selection at target onset. Quite remarkably, these new views concur with Don Stuss' early findings concerning two broad classes of P300 cortical responses evoked by feedback cues and target cards in a computerized Wisconsin Card Sorting Test analogue. Stuss' discussion of those P300 responses—in terms of the resolution of uncertainty about response (policy) selection as well as the participants' expectancies for future perceptual or motor activities and their timing—was prescient of current predictive processing and active (Bayesian) inference theories. From these new premises, a domain-general frontoparietal cortical network is rapidly engaged during two temporarily distinct stages of inference and learning of perceptual categories that underwrite goal-directed card sorting behavior, and they each engage prefrontal executive functions in fundamentally distinct ways.

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