Poster F38, Tuesday, March 28, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
The unique neural signatures of cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control across various task contexts
Raluca Petrican1, Cheryl Grady1,2; 1Rotman Research Institute, 2University of Toronto
The neural mechanisms underlying dispositional variations in cognitive control are key to adaptive functioning, but remain poorly understood. To shed some light on this issue, we examined age- and state-related variations in the neural architecture associated with two cognitive control functions, mental flexibility and inhibitory control. We thus used whole-brain functional connectivity measures from a young to middle-aged sample (N= 359), collected during rest and tasks varying in cognitive load and motivational relevance. Reliable signatures of dispositional inhibition and flexibility were observed in systems involved in sustained control (cingulo-opercular [CON]), purposeful external attention (dorsal attention [DAN]), internal cognition (default mode, [DMN]) and top-down (frontoparietal [FPC]) versus bottom-up (salience [SAL]) control initiation. In the high motivational relevance condition, reliable neural signatures emerged only for inhibition, particularly among younger individuals. Superior inhibition predicted greater CON, DAN, DMN and SAL segregation and stronger perceptual-to-DAN connectivity, implying more efficient processing of motivationally relevant information and greater susceptibility for such information to influence behavior (via the SAL). Under high cognitive load, poorer performance due to reduced flexibility versus inhibition was linked to distinct connectivity patterns. Specifically, the former was typified by lower CON, DAN and FPC whole brain integration, especially among younger adults. Poorer cognitive performance due to reduced inhibition was related to stronger control (FPC, CON, SAL) connectivity with perceptual (visual) and motivational relevance (subcortical) systems. Our results highlight the distinct neural mechanisms through which flexibility versus inhibition impact cognitive performance and the bidirectional relationship between motivational and inhibitory processes in young adulthood.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Other