Dual-tasking is extremely prominent nowadays, despite ample evidence that it comes with a performance cost: the Dual-Task (DT) cost. Neuroimaging studies have established that tasks are more likely to interfere if they rely on common brain regions, but the precise neural origin of the DT cost has proven elusive so far, mostly because fMRI does not record neural activity directly and cannot reveal the key effect of timing, and how the spatio-temporal neural dynamics of the tasks coincide. Recently, DT electrophysiological studies in monkeys have recorded neural populations shared by the two tasks with millisecond precision to provide a much finer understanding of the origin of the DT cost. We used a similar approach in humans, with intracranial EEG, to assess the neural origin of the DT cost in a particularly challenging naturalistic paradigm which required accurate motor responses to frequent visual stimuli (task T1) and the retrieval of information from long-term memory (task T2), as when answering passengers’ questions while driving. We found that T2 elicited neuroelectric interferences in the gamma-band (>40 Hz), in key regions of the T1 network including the Multiple Demand Network. They reproduced the effect of disruptive electrocortical stimulations to create a situation of dynamical incompatibility, which might explain the DT cost. Yet, participants were able to flexibly adapt their strategy to minimize interference, and most surprisingly, reduce the reliance of T1 on key regions of the executive control network – the anterior insula and the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex – with no performance decrement.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience