Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Neuroscience

Supervisor

Dr. Stefan Everling

Abstract

Cognitive control is referred to the guidance of behavior based on internal goals rather than external stimuli. It has been postulated that prefrontal cortex is mainly involved in higher order cognitive functions. Specifically, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which is part of the prefrontal cortex, is suggested to be involved in performance monitoring and conflict monitoring that are considered to be cognitive control functions.

Saccades are the fast eye movements that align the fovea on the objects of interest in the environment. In this thesis, I have explored the role of ACC in control of saccadic eye movements. First, I performed a resting-state fMRI study to identify areas within the ACC that are functionally connected to the frontal eye fields (FEF). It has been shown that FEF is involved in saccade generation. Therefore, the ACC areas that are functionally connected to FEF could be hypothesized to have a role in saccade control. Then, I performed simultaneous electrophysiological recordings in the ACC and FEF. Furthermore, I explored whether ACC exerts control over FEF.

My results show that ACC is involved in cognitive control of saccades. Furthermore, the ACC and FEF neurons communicate through synchronized theta and beta band activity in these areas. The results of this thesis shine light on the mechanisms by which these brain areas communicate. Moreover, my findings support the notion that ACC and FEF have a unique oscillatory property, and more specifically ACC has a prominent theta band, and to a lesser extent beta band activity.