Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
In a wide variety of cognitive domains, performance is determined by the selection and execution of cognitive strategies to solve problems. We used magnetoencephalography to identify the brain regions involved and specify the time course of dynamic modulations of executive control processes during strategy execution. Participants performed a computational estimation task in which they were instructed to execute a poorer or better strategy to estimate results of two-digit multiplication problems. When participants were asked to execute the poorer strategy, two distinct sets of brain activations were identified, depending on whether the poorer strategy (engaging the left inferior frontal junction) or the better strategy (engaging ACC) had been executed on the immediately preceding items. Our findings also revealed the time course of activations in regions involved in sequential modulations of cognitive control processes during arithmetic strategy execution. These findings point at processes of proactive preparation on items after poorer strategy items and dynamics of reactive adjustments after better strategy items.