Prior context influences motor brain areas in an auditory oddball task and prefrontal cortex multitasking modelling

Carlos A. Mugruza-Vassallo, Douglas D. Potter, Stamatina Tsiora, Jennifer A. Macfarlane, Adele Maxwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this study, the relationship of orienting of attention, motor control and the Stimulus- (SDN) and Goal-Driven Networks (GDN) was explored through an innovative method for fMRI analysis considering all voxels in four experimental conditions: standard target (Goal; G), novel (N), neutral (Z) and noisy target (NG). First, average reaction times (RTs) for each condition were calculated. In the second-level analysis, ‘distracted’ participants, as indicated by slower RTs, evoked brain activations and differences in both hemispheres’ neural networks for selective attention, while the participants, as a whole, demonstrated mainly left cortical and subcortical activations. A context analysis was run in the behaviourally distracted participant group contrasting the trials immediately prior to the G trials, namely one of the Z, N or NG conditions, i.e. Z.G, N.G, NG.G. Results showed different prefrontal activations dependent on prior context in the auditory modality, recruiting between 1 to 10 prefrontal areas. The higher the motor response and influence of the previous novel stimulus, the more prefrontal areas were engaged, which extends the findings of hierarchical studies of prefrontal control of attention and better explains how auditory processing interferes with movement. Also, the current study addressed how subcortical loops and models of previous motor response affected the signal processing of the novel stimulus, when this was presented laterally or simultaneously with the target. This multitasking model could enhance our understanding on how an auditory stimulus is affecting motor responses in a way that is self-induced, by taking into account prior context, as demonstrated in the standard condition and as supported by Pulvinar activations complementing visual findings. Moreover, current BCI works address some multimodal stimulus-driven systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalBrain Informatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Cognitive modelling
  • Cue–target onset asynchrony (CTOA)
  • Electroencephalography (EEG)
  • Event-related potential (ERP)
  • Executive function
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
  • Motor networks
  • Multitask applications
  • Orienting of attention
  • Prefrontal cortex (PFC)
  • Running average reaction times


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