Contextually sensitive power changes across multiple frequency bands underpin cognitive control

Patrick S. Cooper, Álvaro Darriba, Frini Karayanidis, Francisco Barceló

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Flexible control of cognition bestows a remarkable adaptability to a broad range of contexts. While cognitive control is known to rely on frontoparietal neural architecture to achieve this flexibility, the neural mechanisms that allow such adaptability to context are poorly understood. In the current study, we quantified contextual demands on the cognitive control system via a priori estimation of information across three tasks varying in difficulty (oddball, go/nogo, and switch tasks) and compared neural responses across these different contexts. We report evidence of the involvement of multiple frequency bands during preparation and implementation of cognitive control. Specifically, a common frontoparietal delta and a central alpha process corresponded to rule implementation and motor response respectively. Interestingly, we found evidence of a frontal theta signature that was sensitive to increasing amounts of information and a posterior parietal alpha process only seen during anticipatory rule updating. Importantly, these neural signatures of context processing match proposed frontal hierarchies of control and together provide novel evidence of a complex interplay of multiple frequency bands underpinning flexible, contextually sensitive cognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-511
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • EEG
  • Executive function
  • Go/nogo
  • Information theory
  • Oddball
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Task switching
  • Time frequency

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