Journal of Neuropsychology

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Impaired processing of response conflicts in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy

  • Author(s): Markus Ramm, Gabriel Möddel, Benedikt Sundermann, Annegret Last, Lisa Langenbruch, Johannes Jungilligens, Jörg Wellmer, Peter Young, Nikolai Axmacher
  • Published 17 Jun 2019
  • DOI: 10.1111/jnp.12186

Increasing evidence from neuroimaging studies points towards a hippocampal role in resolving approach‐avoidance goal conflicts. Furthermore, previous neuroimaging findings suggest that the hippocampus (HC) contributes to successful conflict resolution as it is measured, for example, in a Stroop paradigm. However, it is still an open question whether the hippocampus is indeed causally relevant for resolving cognitive conflicts. Here, we investigated whether conflict resolution performance is affected by hippocampal pathology. N = 30 patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE), almost exclusively showing MRI signs of hippocampal sclerosis, and an equal number of age‐matched healthy controls performed an auditory Stroop paradigm. Participants listened to the words ‘high’ and ‘low’, spoken in either a high or a low pitch. Subjects’ response time and accuracy to the phonetic information in the presence of incongruent (conflict trials) or congruent (non‐conflict trials) semantic information were assessed. In addition, patients’ regional grey matter (GM) brain volumes were analysed. We observed an increased effect of conflict on accuracy in patients with MTLE compared to healthy controls. This effect was negatively correlated with right HC volume. The results suggest that the impairment in the resolution of a response conflict is related to hippocampal structural integrity and thus add further support to the notion that the HC is not only involved but even causally relevant for successful cognitive conflict processing.

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