The role of prefrontal cortex in resolving distractor interference

Amishi P. Jha, Sara A. Fabian, Geoffrey K. Aguirre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


We investigate the hypothesis that those subregions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) found to support proactive interference resolution may also support delay-spanning distractor interference resolution. Ten subjects performed delayed-recognition tasks requiring working memory for faces or shoes during functional MRI scanning. During the 15-sec delay interval, task-irrelevant distractors were presented. These distractors were either all faces or all shoes and were thus either congruent or incongruent with the domain of items in the working memory task. Delayed-recognition performance was slower and less accurate during congruent than during incongruent trials. Our fMRI analyses revealed significant delay interval activity for face and shoe working memory tasks within both dorsal and ventral PFC. However, only ventral PFC activity was modulated by distractor category, with greater activity for congruent than for incongruent trials. Importantly, this congruency effect was only present for correct trials. In addition to PFC, activity within the fusiform face area was investigated. During face distraction, activity was greater for face relative to shoe working memory. As in ventrolateral PFC, this congruency effect was only present for correct trials. These results suggest that the ventrolateral PFC and fusiform face area may work together to support delay-spanning interference resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-527
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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