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Disentangling the prefrontal network for rule selection by means of a non-verbal variant of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test

Authors

  • Karsten Specht,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
    2. Department of Clinical Engineering, Haukeland University Hospital Bergen, Bergen, Norway
    3. Institute of Medicine, Research Center Jülich, Jülich, Germany
    • Department of Biological and Medical Psychology, University of Bergen, Jonas Lies vei 91, 5009 Bergen, Norway
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  • Chuh-Hyoun Lie,

    1. Institute of Medicine, Research Center Jülich, Jülich, Germany
    2. Department of Neurology, University Hospital Cologne, Cologne, Germany
    3. Brain Imaging Center West (BICW), Research Center Jülich, Jülich, Germany
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  • Nadim. Jon Shah,

    1. Institute of Medicine, Research Center Jülich, Jülich, Germany
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  • Gereon R. Fink

    1. Institute of Medicine, Research Center Jülich, Jülich, Germany
    2. Department of Neurology, University Hospital Cologne, Cologne, Germany
    3. Brain Imaging Center West (BICW), Research Center Jülich, Jülich, Germany
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Abstract

This study disentangles the prefrontal network underlying executive functions involved in the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). During the WCST, subjects have to perform two key processes: first, they have to derive the correct sorting rule for each trial by trial-and-error, and, second, they have to detect when this sorting rule is changed by the investigator. Both cognitive processes constitute key components of the executive system, which is subserved by the prefrontal cortex. For the current fMRI experiment, we developed a non-verbal variant of the WCST. Subjects were instructed either to respond according to a given sorting rule or to detect the correct sorting rule, like in the original version of the WCST. Data were obtained from 14 healthy male volunteers and analysed using SPM and a random effects model. All conditions activated a fronto-parietal network, which was generally more active when subjects had to search for the correct sorting rule than when the rule was announced beforehand. Significant differences between these two conditions were seen in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the parietal lobe. In addition, the data provided new evidence for the assumption of differentiated roles of the left and right prefrontal cortex. Although the right PFC showed a general involvement in response selection and the execution of goal directed responses, based on given rules, the left PFC was only activated when inductive reasoning and feedback integration was required. Hum Brain Mapp 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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