Transcranial magnetic stimulation to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex affects conflict-induced behavioural adaptation in a Wisconsin Card Sorting Test analogue.

PMID 27889392


A substantial body of literature has proposed a role for dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) in supporting behavioural adaptation during conflict tasks. The vast majority of the evidence in support of this interpretation comes from neuroimaging studies. However, in order to unequivocally ascribe such a role to dlPFC, it is important to determine whether or not it is essential for this mechanism, and this can only be achieved by lesioning the area or interfering with its activity. In this study, we investigated the effects of repeated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) to dlPFC on performance on a conflict version of a Wisconsin Card Sorting Test analogue (used previously in circumscribed lesion studies in monkeys) in neurologically healthy human participants. Our results supported the view of dlPFC as a fundamental structure for optimal conflict-induced behavioural adaptation, as stimulation cancelled out the adaptation effect normally observed on control trials. We show that there is some indication of differential modulation of trial types by stimulation and we hypothesize that this might suggest a role for dlPFC in conflict-induced adaptation that is more specifically concerned with the maintenance of conflict-history information online across trials.