Functional dissociations in top-down control dependent neural repetition priming

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Abstract

Little is known about the neural mechanisms underlying top-down control of repetition priming. Here, we use functional brain imaging to investigate these mechanisms. Study and repetition tasks used a natural/man-made forced choice task. In the study phase subjects were required to respond to either pictures or words that were presented superimposed on each other. In the repetition phase only words were presented that were new, previously attended or ignored, or picture names that were derived from previously attended or ignored pictures. Relative to new words we found repetition priming for previously attended words. Previously ignored words showed a reduced priming effect, and there was no significant priming for pictures repeated as picture names. Brain imaging data showed that neural priming of words in the left prefrontal cortex (LIPFC) and left fusiform gyrus (LOTC) was affected by attention, semantic compatibility of superimposed stimuli during study and cross-modal priming. Neural priming reduced for words in the LIPFC and for words and pictures in the LOTC if stimuli were previously ignored. Previously ignored words that were semantically incompatible with a superimposed picture during study induce increased neural priming compared to semantically compatible ignored words (LIPFC) and decreased neural priming of previously attended pictures (LOTC). In summary, top-down control induces dissociable effects on neural priming by attention, cross-modal priming and semantic compatibility in a way that was not evident from behavioral results.

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