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Title: Neuronal Correlates of Cognitive Control during Gaming Revealed by Near-Infrared Spectroscopy
Authors: Witte, M.
Ninaus, M.
Kober, S. E.
Neuper, C.
Wood, G.
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: In everyday life we quickly build and maintain associations between stimuli and behavioral responses. This is governed by rules of varying complexity and past studies have identified an underlying fronto-parietal network involved in cognitive control processes. However, there is only limited knowledge about the neuronal activations during more natural settings like game playing. We thus assessed whether near-infrared spectroscopy recordings can reflect different demands on cognitive control during a simple game playing task. Sixteen healthy participants had to catch falling objects by pressing computer keys. These objects either fell randomly (RANDOM task), according to a known stimulus-response mapping applied by players (APPLY task) or according to a stimulus-response mapping that had to be learned (LEARN task). We found an increased change of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin during LEARN covering broad areas over right frontal, central and parietal cortex. Opposed to this, hemoglobin changes were less pronounced for RANDOM and APPLY. Along with the findings that fewer objects were caught during LEARN but stimulus-response mappings were successfully identified, we attribute the higher activations to an increased cognitive load when extracting an unknown mapping. This study therefore demonstrates a neuronal marker of cognitive control during gaming revealed by near-infrared spectroscopy recordings.
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