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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

May 2017, Vol. 29, No. 5, Pages 769-779.
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01076)
© 2017 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Domain-general Stroop Performance and Hemispheric Asymmetries: A Resting-state EEG Study
Article PDF (849.18 KB)

The ability to suppress irrelevant information while executing a task, also known as interference resistance ability, is a function of pFC that is critical for successful goal-directed human behavior. In the study of interference resistance and, more generally, executive functions, two key questions are still open: Does pFC contribute to cognitive control abilities through lateralized but domain-general mechanisms or through hemispheric specialization of domain-specific processes? And what are the underlying causes of interindividual differences in executive control performance? To shed light on these issues, here we employed an interindividual difference approach to investigate whether participants' hemispheric asymmetry in resting-state electrophysiological brain dynamics may reflect their variability in domain-general interference resistance. We recorded participants' resting-state electroencephalographic activity and performed spectral power analyses on the estimated cortical source activity. To measure participants' lateralized brain dynamics at rest, we computed the right–left hemispheric asymmetry score for the β/α power ratio. To measure their domain-general interference resistance ability, verbal and spatial Stroop tasks were used. Robust correlations followed by intersection analyses showed that participants with stronger resting-state-related left-lateralized activity in different pFC regions, namely the mid-posterior superior frontal gyrus, middle and posterior middle frontal gyrus, and inferior frontal junction, were more able to inhibit irrelevant information in both domains. The present results confirm and extend previous findings showing that neurophysiological difference factors may explain interindividual differences in executive functioning. They also provide support for the hypothesis of a left pFC hemispheric specialization for domain-independent phasic cognitive control processes mediating Stroop performance.