Language production and cognitive control are complex processes that involve distinct yet interacting brain networks. However, the extent to which these processes interact and their neural bases have not been thoroughly examined. Here, we investigated the neural and behavioral bases of language production and cognitive control via a phonological go/no-go picture-naming task. Naming difficulty and cognitive control demands (i.e., conflict monitoring and response inhibition) were manipulated by varying the proportion of naming trials (go trials) and inhibition trials (no-go trials) across task runs. The results demonstrated that as task demands increased, participants’ behavioral performance declined (i.e., longer reaction times on naming trials, more commission errors on inhibition trials) whereas brain activation generally increased. Increased activation was found not only within the language network but also in domain-general control regions. Additionally, right superior and inferior frontal and left supramarginal gyri were sensitive to increased task difficulty during both language production and response inhibition. We also found both positive and negative brain–behavior correlations. Most notably, increased activation in sensorimotor regions, such as precentral and postcentral gyri, was associated with better behavioral performance, in both successful picture naming and successful inhibition. Moreover, comparing the strength of correlations across conditions indicated that the brain–behavior correlations in sensorimotor regions that were associated with improved performance became stronger as task demands increased. Overall, our results suggest that cognitive control demands affect language production, and that successfully coping with increases in task difficulty relies on both language-specific and domain-general cognitive control regions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience