The effect of task demands on the neural patterns generated by novel instruction encoding
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AuthorSobrado, Alberto; Palenciano Castro, Ana Francisca; González García, Carlos; Ruz Cámara, María
Cognitive controlNovel instructionsfMRIMultivariate pattern analysisFronto-parietal network
Alberto Sobrado... [et al.]. The effect of task demands on the neural patterns generated by novel instruction encoding, Cortex, Volume 149, 2022, Pages 59-72, ISSN 0010-9452, [https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2022.01.010]
SponsorshipSpanish Government PID2019-111187GB-I00 IJC2019-040208-I; European Commission 835767; Spanish Government FPU17/01627; University of Granada
Verbal instructions allow fast and optimal implementation of novel behaviors. Previous research has shown that different control-related variables structure neural activity in frontoparietal regions during the encoding of novel instructed tasks. However, it is uncertain whether different task goals modulate the organizing effect of these variables. In this study, we investigated whether the neural encoding of three task-relevant variables (dimension integration, response set complexity and target category) is modulated by implementation and memorization demands. To do so, we combined functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), an instruction-following paradigm and multivariate analyses. We addressed how and where distributed activity patterns encoded the instructions' variables and the impact of the implementation and memorization demands on the fidelity of these representations. We further explored the nature of the neural code underpinning this process. Our results reveal, first, that the content of to-be-implemented and to-bememorized instructions is represented in overlapping brain regions, flexibly using a common neural code across tasks. Importantly, they also suggest that preparing to implement the instructions increases the decodability of task-relevant information in frontoparietal areas, in comparison with memorization demands. Overall, our work emphasizes both similarities and differences in task coding under the two contextual demands. These findings qualify the previous understanding of novel instruction processing, suggesting that representing task attributes in a generalizable code, together with the increase in encoding fidelity induced by the implementation goals, could be key mechanisms for proactive control in novel scenarios.