May 9, 2021

Modulating the left inferior frontal cortex by task domain, cognitive challenge and tDCS

The left inferior frontal cortex (LIFC) is a key region for spoken language processing, but its neurocognitive architecture remains controversial. Here we assess the domain-generality vs. domain-specificity of the LIFC from behavioural, functional neuroimaging and neuromodulation data. Using concurrent fMRI and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) delivered to the LIFC, we investigated how brain activity and behavioural performance are modulated by task domain (naming vs. non-naming), cognitive challenge (low vs. high), and tDCS (anodal vs. sham). The data revealed: (1) co-existence of neural signatures both common and distinct across tasks within the LIFC; (2) domain-preferential effects of task (naming); (3) significant tDCS modulations of activity in a LIFC sub-region selectively during high-challenge naming. The presence of both domain-specific and domain-general signals, and the existence of a gradient of activation where naming relied more on sub-regions within the LIFC, may help reconcile both perspectives on spoken language processing.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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