Cross-task specificity and within-task invariance of cognitive control processes

Yuchen Xiao, Chien Chen Chou, Garth Rees Cosgrove, Nathan E. Crone, Scellig Stone, Joseph R. Madsen, Ian Reucroft, Yen Cheng Shih, Daniel Weisholtz, Hsiang Yu Yu, William S. Anderson, Gabriel Kreiman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cognitive control involves flexibly combining multiple sensory inputs with task-dependent goals during decision making. Several tasks involving conflicting sensory inputs and motor outputs have been proposed to examine cognitive control, including the Stroop, Flanker, and multi-source interference task. Because these tasks have been studied independently, it remains unclear whether the neural signatures of cognitive control reflect abstract control mechanisms or specific combinations of sensory and behavioral aspects of each task. To address these questions, we record invasive neurophysiological signals from 16 patients with pharmacologically intractable epilepsy and compare neural responses within and between tasks. Neural signals differ between incongruent and congruent conditions, showing strong modulation by conflicting task demands. These neural signals are mostly specific to each task, generalizing within a task but not across tasks. These results highlight the complex interplay between sensory inputs, motor outputs, and task demands underlying cognitive control processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number111919
JournalCell Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 31 2023


  • CP: Neuroscience
  • cognitive control
  • conflict monitoring
  • decision making
  • frontal cortex
  • human neurophysiology
  • task invariance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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