Global increase in task-related fronto-parietal activity after focal frontal lobe lesion.
Woolgar A., Bor D., Duncan J.
A critical question for neuropsychology is how complex brain networks react to damage. Here, we address this question for the well-known executive control or multiple-demand (MD) system, a fronto-parietal network showing increased activity with many different kinds of cognitive demand, including standard tests of fluid intelligence. Using fMRI, we ask how focal frontal lobe damage affects MD activity during a standard fluid intelligence task. Despite poor behavioral performance, frontal patients showed increased fronto-parietal activity relative to controls. The activation difference was not accounted for by difference in IQ. Moreover, rather than specific focus on perilesional or contralesional cortex, additional recruitment was distributed throughout the MD regions and surrounding cortex and included parietal MD regions distant from the injury. The data suggest that, following local frontal lobe damage, there is a global compensatory recruitment of an adaptive and integrated fronto-parietal network.