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Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) is proposed to drive brain-wide focus by biasing processing in favour of task-relevant information. A longstanding debate concerns whether this is achieved through enhancing processing of relevant information and/or by inhibiting irrelevant information. To address this, we applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) during fMRI, and tested for causal changes in information coding. Participants attended to one feature, whilst ignoring another feature, of a visual object. If dlPFC is necessary for facilitation, disruptive TMS should decrease coding of attended features. Conversely, if dlPFC is crucial for inhibition, TMS should increase coding of ignored features. Here, we show that TMS decreases coding of relevant information across frontoparietal cortex, and the impact is significantly stronger than any effect on irrelevant information, which is not statistically detectable. This provides causal evidence for a specific role of dlPFC in enhancing task-relevant representations and demonstrates the cognitive-neural insights possible with concurrent TMS-fMRI-MVPA.
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- cognitive control
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30/06/17 → …
1/07/17 → 27/04/18