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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.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





36 - 43


Behavioural adaptation, Conflict-monitoring, Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Adaptation, Psychological, Analysis of Variance, Conflict, Psychological, Executive Function, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Male, Neuropsychological Tests, Prefrontal Cortex, Reaction Time, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Visual Perception, Young Adult