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The neural bases of event monitoring across domains: A simultaneous ERP-fMRI study

  • Autori: Tarantino, V.; Mazzonetto, I.; Formica, S.; Causin, F.; Vallesi, A.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2017
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
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The ability to check and evaluate the environment over time with the aim to detect the occurrence of target stimuli is supported by sustained/tonic as well as transient/phasic control processes, which overall might be referred to as event monitoring. The neural underpinning of sustained attentional control processes involves a fronto-parietal network. However, it has not been well-defined yet whether this cortical circuit acts irrespective of the specific material to be monitored and whether this mediates sustained as well as transient monitoring processes. In the current study, the functional activity of brain during an event monitoring task was investigated and compared between two cognitive domains, whose processing is mediated by differently lateralized areas. Namely, participants were asked to monitor sequences of either faces (supported by right-hemisphere regions) or tools (left-hemisphere). In order to disentangle sustained from transient components of monitoring, a simultaneous EEG-fMRI technique was adopted within a block design. When contrasting monitoring versus control blocks, the conventional fMRI analysis revealed the sustained involvement of bilateral fronto-parietal regions, in both task domains. Event-related potentials (ERPs) showed a more positive amplitude over frontal sites in monitoring compared to control blocks, providing evidence of a transient monitoring component. The joint ERP-fMRI analysis showed that, in the case of face monitoring, this transient component relies on right-lateralized areas, including the inferior parietal lobule and the middle frontal gyrus. In the case of tools, no fronto-parietal areas correlated with the transient ERP activity, suggesting that in this domain phasic monitoring processes were masked by tonic ones. Overall, the present findings highlight the role of bilateral fronto-parietal regions in sustained monitoring, independently of the specific task requirements, and suggest that right-lateralized areas subtend transient monitoring processes, at least in some task contexts.