Date of Degree

6-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Psychology

Advisor

Jin Fan

Advisor

Jeff Beeler

Committee Members

Elizabeth Chua

Tatiana Emmanouil

Keywords

anterior insular cortex, cognitive control, lesion, mouse model, optogenetics, fiber photometry

Abstract

Cognitive control, a higher level psychological construct, refers to efficient coordination of thoughts and actions for the accomplishment of goal-directed behaviors. Cognitive control is supported by a commonly activated cognitive control network, and the anterior insular cortex (AIC) serves as one of its key structures. However, the functional role of the AIC in cognitive control has not been fully understood. A human lesion study was conducted to examine the necessary function of the AIC in cognitive control. A mouse optogenetic study with fiber photometry recording further examinedwhether the bilateral AIC was important for cognitive control and how the AIC played a role in different stages of cognitive control (e.g., state uncertainty processing, execution of control, or motor generation). Compatible versions of the post-target interference task consisting of congruent and incongruent conditions were used to measure cognitive control in humans and mice, respectively. In the human lesion study, the patients with lesions in the AIC showed longer overall response time (RT), lower overall processing efficiency, and greater conflict effects of RT and processing efficiency. These findings provided lesion-based evidence to support a causally necessary function of the AIC in cognitive control. In the mouse study, the accuracy of the congruent condition decreased when the AIC was silenced unilaterally or bilaterally by optogenetics after the cue sound and when the AIC was silenced bilaterally during the presentation of target and distractor stimuli, indicating that the disruption of the AIC resulted in a reduction in global processing efficiency. The fiber photometry results showed a significant decrease of the calcium-dependent signal after the cue sound compared to baseline, suggesting that the AIC was involved in state uncertainty processing. The results of the human lesion study identified the necessary role of the AIC in cognitive control. The findings of the mouse study further demonstrated the role of the AIC in cognitive control in both hemispheres and suggested a critical role of the AIC in state uncertainty processing.

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