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Information-Processing Modules and their Relative Modality Specificity
This research uses fMRI to understand the role of eight cortical regions in a relatively complex information-processing task. Modality of input (visual versus auditory) and modality of output (manual versus vocal) are manipulated. Two perceptual regions (auditory cortex and fusiform gyrus) only reflected perceptual encoding. Two motor regions were involved in information rehearsal as well as programming of overt actions. Two cortical regions (parietal and prefrontal) performed processing (retrieval and representational change) independent of input and output modality. The final two regions (anterior cingulate and caudate) were involved in control of cognition independent of modality of input or output and content of the material. An information-processing model, based on the ACT-R theory, is described that predicts the BOLD response in these regions. Different modules in the theory vary in the degree to which they are modality-specific and the degree to which they are involved in central versus peripheral cognitive processes.