The goal of this research program is to advance our understanding of the functional organization of frontal cortex and the ways in which interactions among frontal regions permit internal control of thought and action, an ability termed cognitive control. The proposed experiments test the hypothesis that the rostro-caudal axis of the frontal lobes comprises a processing hierarchy whereby more anterior regions support cognitive control involving progressively more abstract goals, plans, and action representations. First, a set of fMRI experiments, using factorial logic, seek to specify the dimensions of abstraction that define regional differences along the rostro-caudal axis of the frontal lobes. Several experiments have demonstrated a functional gradient along the rostro-caudal axis as cognitive control involves more abstract representations. However, these experiments have differed in their definition of abstraction, including domain generality, temporal abstraction, and rule complexity. Though these dimensions of abstraction are not mutually exclusive, they may also be independently varied under controlled circumstances. Thus, the first set of fMRI experiments take advantage of this independence to provide a more explicit definition of abstraction as it relates to frontal lobe function. Second, a hierarchical system requires that superordinate processors can modulate subordinate processors but not vice versa. Translated to a frontal hierarchy, this asymmetry predicts that control processing by a given region of the frontal cortex should directly influence regions posterior to but not anterior to its locus. Thus, a line fMRI experiments will use effective connectivity analysis to test whether (a) cognitive control processing in anterior frontal regions can modulate processing in posterior frontal regions, (b) whether cognitive control processing in posterior frontal regions can affect concurrent control processing by anterior frontal regions. Third, a set of experiments will investigate frontal lobe function during learning and adaptation of hierarchically structured rule sets. In general, hierarchies are useful structures for supporting learning of novel tasks because they can represent the same information at multiple levels of abstraction and so can provide access points for the application of prior knowledge, such as through analogy. Thus, a set of experiments test whether the putative frontal lobe hierarchy reflects such dynamics during learning of novel rule sets, the transfer of learning to new tasks, and the application of transformational rules to existing rule sets. Hence, across its aims, this program of research triangulates the hypothesis of a hierarchical organization of the frontal lobe by testing three different classes of predictions that each arises from an assumption of a hierarchical system.

Public Health Relevance

A variety of disorders impact cognitive control and frontal function, including schizophrenia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression, autism, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. However, a lack of basic understanding of cognitive control and frontal function remains a persistent obstacle to directed assessment and rehabilitation of frontal lobe dysfunction (Royall et al., 2002). The proposed research seeks to fill these gaps in basic understanding of frontal lobe function, and so may form a basis for development of directed assessments that refine diagnosis and improve rehabilitation.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01NS065046-05
Application #
8606261
Study Section
Cognitive Neuroscience Study Section (COG)
Program Officer
Babcock, Debra J
Project Start
2010-02-15
Project End
2015-01-31
Budget Start
2014-02-01
Budget End
2015-01-31
Support Year
5
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
$304,791
Indirect Cost
$111,853
Name
Brown University
Department
Miscellaneous
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
001785542
City
Providence
State
RI
Country
United States
Zip Code
02912
Chatham, Christopher H; Badre, David (2015) Multiple gates on working memory. Curr Opin Behav Sci 1:23-31
Frank, Michael J; Badre, David (2015) How cognitive theory guides neuroscience. Cognition 135:14-20
Frank, Michael J; Gagne, Chris; Nyhus, Erika et al. (2015) fMRI and EEG predictors of dynamic decision parameters during human reinforcement learning. J Neurosci 35:485-94
Desrochers, Theresa M; Chatham, Christopher H; Badre, David (2015) The Necessity of Rostrolateral Prefrontal Cortex for Higher-Level Sequential Behavior. Neuron 87:1357-68
Ranti, Carolyn; Chatham, Christopher H; Badre, David (2015) Parallel temporal dynamics in hierarchical cognitive control. Cognition 142:205-29
Voytek, Bradley; Kayser, Andrew S; Badre, David et al. (2015) Oscillatory dynamics coordinating human frontal networks in support of goal maintenance. Nat Neurosci 18:1318-24
Barredo, Jennifer; Öztekin, Ilke; Badre, David (2015) Ventral fronto-temporal pathway supporting cognitive control of episodic memory retrieval. Cereb Cortex 25:1004-19
Kang, Hakmook; Blume, Jeffrey; Ombao, Hernando et al. (2015) Simultaneous control of error rates in fMRI data analysis. Neuroimage 123:102-13
Chatham, Christopher H; Frank, Michael J; Badre, David (2014) Corticostriatal output gating during selection from working memory. Neuron 81:930-42
Amso, Dima; Haas, Sara; McShane, Lauren et al. (2014) Working memory updating and the development of rule-guided behavior. Cognition 133:201-10

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