Neural correlates of distance and congruity effects in a numerical Stroop task: an event-related fMRI study

Liane Kaufmann, Florian Koppelstaetter, Margarete Delazer, Christian Siedentopf, Paul Rhomberg, Stefan Golaszewski, Stefan Felber, Anja Ischebeck
NeuroImage 2005 April 15, 25 (3): 888-98
This study aimed at investigating the neural correlates of a number-size congruity task. Using an event-related fMRI design, we presented one-digit number pairs to 17 participants in a number-size interference task that required subjects to focus on one stimulus property (e.g., numerical size) and to ignore the other (physical size). In different blocks, participants were asked to decide which digit of a digit pair was numerically larger (numerical comparison task) or physically larger (physical comparison task). Stimuli were classified into three categories: (a) congruent: physical and numerical comparison leads to the same response; (b) incongruent: physical and numerical comparison leads to different responses; (c) neutral: the stimuli differ only with regard to the task-relevant stimulus property. Behavioral results reflect robust distance effects (quicker reaction times for long distances relative to short ones) and size congruity effects (longer reaction times for incongruent relative to congruent stimuli) in both tasks. Imaging results reveal that-compared to congruent trials-incongruent trials led to a stronger activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex, areas associated with attentional control. The distance effect (neutral condition only) led to a stronger activation in bilateral parietal areas including the intraparietal sulcus (IPS).

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