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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

May 15, 2001, Vol. 13, No. 4, Pages 523-536
(doi: 10.1162/08989290152001934)
© 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
When in Doubt, Do it Both Ways: Brain Evidence of the Simultaneous Activation of Conflicting Motor Responses in a Spatial Stroop Task
Article PDF (2.17 MB)

Response competition is often considered an important contributor to the delayed reaction to stimuli for which physical and semantic information are in conflict (“Stroop” effect). Response competition implies that brain areas associated with correct and incorrect responses (e.g., left and right motor cortices) should be simultaneously activated in conflict conditions. However, there is at present little direct evidence of this phenomenon, in part because of the paucity of brain imaging techniques that can independently monitor the time course of activation of adjacent brain areas, such as the motor areas. In the present study, we show that the event-related optical signal (EROS) can provide these types of data. The results confirm the prediction that conflict trials elicit simultaneous activation of both motor cortices, whereas nonconflict trials elicit brain activity only in the contralateral motor cortex. These data support a parallel view of the human information processing system.