The interaction of process and domain in prefrontal cortex during inductive reasoning.

Neuropsychologia

PubMedID: 25498406

Babcock L, Vallesi A. The interaction of process and domain in prefrontal cortex during inductive reasoning. Neuropsychologia. 2014;.
Inductive reasoning is an everyday process that allows us to make sense of the world by creating rules from a series of instances. Consistent with accounts of process-based fractionations of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) along the left-right axis, inductive reasoning has been reliably localized to left PFC. However, these results may be confounded by the task domain, which is typically verbal. Indeed, some studies show that right PFC activation is seen with spatial tasks. This study used fMRI to examine the effects of process and domain on the brain regions recruited during a novel pattern discovery task. Twenty healthy young adult participants were asked to discover the rule underlying the presentation of a series of letters in varied spatial locations. The rules were either verbal (pertaining to a single semantic category) or spatial (geometric figures). Bilateral ventrolateral PFC activations were seen for the spatial domain, while the verbal domain showed only left ventrolateral PFC. A conjunction analysis revealed that the two domains recruited a common region of left ventrolateral PFC. The data support a central role of left PFC in inductive reasoning. Importantly, they also suggest that both process and domain shape the localization of reasoning in the brain.