Three key regions for supervisory attentional control: Evidence from neuroimaging meta-analyses

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The supervisory attentional system has been proposed to mediate non-routine, goal-oriented behaviour by guiding the selection and maintenance of the goal-relevant task schema. Here, we aimed to delineate the brain regions that mediate these high-level control processes via neuroimaging meta-analysis. In particular, we investigated the core neural correlates of a wide range of tasks requiring supervisory control for the suppression of a routine action in favour of another, non-routine one. Our sample comprised n = 173 experiments employing go/no-go, stop-signal, Stroop or spatial interference tasks. Consistent convergence across all four paradigm classes was restricted to right anterior insula and inferior frontal junction, with anterior midcingulate cortex and pre-supplementary motor area being consistently involved in all but the go/no-go task. Taken together with lesion studies in patients, our findings suggest that the controlled activation and maintenance of adequate task schemata relies, across paradigms, on a right-dominant midcingulo-insular-inferior frontal core network. This also implies that the role of other prefrontal and parietal regions may be less domain-general than previously thought.

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