The neural circuitry supporting goal maintenance during cognitive control: a comparison of expectancy AX-CPT and dot probe expectancy paradigms

Pilar Lopez-Garcia, Tyler A. Lesh, Taylor Salo, Deanna M. Barch, Angus W. MacDonald, James M. Gold, J. Daniel Ragland, Milton Strauss, Steven M. Silverstein, Cameron S. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Goal maintenance is an aspect of cognitive control that has been identified as critical for understanding psychopathology according to criteria of the NIMH-sponsored CNTRICS (Cognitive Neuroscience Treatment Research to Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia) and Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiatives. CNTRICS proposed the expectancy AX-CPT, and its visual-spatial parallel the dot probe expectancy (DPX), as valid measures of the cognitive and neural processes thought to be relevant for goal maintenance. The goal of this study was to specifically examine the functional neural correlates and connectivity patterns of both goal maintenance tasks in the same subset of subjects to further validate their neural construct validity and clarify our understanding of the nature and function of the neural circuitry engaged by the tasks. Twenty-six healthy control subjects performed both the letter (AX) and dot pattern (DPX) variants of the CPT during fMRI. Behavioral performance was similar between tasks. The 2 tasks engaged the same brain networks including dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and dorsal parietal regions, supporting their validity as complementary measures of the goal maintenance construct. Interestingly there was greater engagement of the frontal opercular insula region during the expectancy AX-CPT (letter) and greater functional connectivity between the PFC and medial temporal lobe in the DPX (dot pattern). These differences are consistent with differential recruitment of phonological and visual-spatial processes by the two tasks and suggest that additional long-term memory systems may be engaged by the dot probe version.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-175
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Cognitive control
  • Connectivity
  • Context processing
  • Goal maintenance

Cite this