Todd S Braver's research while affiliated with Washington & Lee University and other places

Publications (290)

Article
Full-text available
Cognitive control serves a crucial role in human higher mental functions. The Dual Mechanisms of Control (DMC) account provides a unifying theoretical framework that decomposes cognitive control into two qualitatively distinct mechanisms – proactive control and reactive control. While prior behavioral and neuroimaging work has demonstrated the vali...
Article
The development of technologies for brain stimulation provides a means for scientists and clinicians to directly actuate the brain and nervous system. Brain stimulation has shown intriguing potential in terms of modifying particular symptom clusters in patients and behavioral characteristics of subjects. The stage is thus set for optimization of th...
Preprint
Objectives: The study investigated whether cognitive effort decision-making measured via aneuroeconomic paradigm that manipulated framing (gain vs. loss outcomes), could predict daily life engagement in mentally demanding activities in both younger and older adults.Method: Younger and older adult participants (N=310) completed the Cognitive Effort...
Article
Delay of gratification (DofG) refers to an inter-temporal choice phenomenon that is of great interest in many domains, including animal learning, cognitive development, economic decision-making, and executive control. Yet experimental tools for investigating DofG in human adults are almost non-existent, and as a consequence, very little is known re...
Preprint
Life-long engagement in cognitively demanding activities may mitigate against declines in cognitive ability observed in healthy or pathological aging. However, the “mental costs” associated with completing cognitive tasks also increases with age and may be partly attributed to increases in preclinical levels of Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology. We...
Article
Full-text available
Cognitive control is a critical higher mental function, which is subject to considerable individual variation, and is impaired in a range of mental health disorders. We describe here the initial release of Dual Mechanisms of Cognitive Control (DMCC) project data, the DMCC55B dataset, with 55 healthy unrelated young adult participants. Each particip...
Preprint
Full-text available
The domain of cognitive control has been a major focus of experimental, neuroscience, and individual differences research. Currently, however, no theory of cognitive control successfully unifies both experimental and individual differences findings. Some perspectives deny that there even exists a unified psychometric cognitive control construct to...
Article
Full-text available
Stable individual differences in cognitive motivation (i.e., the tendency to engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activities) have been documented with self-report measures, yet convergent support for a trait-level construct is still lacking. In the present study, we used an innovative decision-making paradigm (COG-ED) to quantify the costs of c...
Preprint
Previous research has linked working memory capacity (WMC) with enhanced proactive control. However, it remains unclear the extent to which this relationship reflects the influence of WMC on the tendency to engage proactive control, or rather, the ability to implement it. The current study sought to clarify this ambiguity by leveraging the Dual Mec...
Article
Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) represents a promising approach to study cognitive aging. In contrast to laboratory-based studies, EMA involves the repeated sampling of experiences in daily life contexts, enabling investigators to gain access to dynamic processes (e.g., situational contexts, intraindividual variability) that are likely to str...
Preprint
Cognitive control serves a crucial role in human higher mental functions. The Dual Mechanisms of Control (DMC) account provides a unifying theoretical framework that decomposes cognitive control into two qualitatively distinct mechanisms – proactive control and reactive control. While prior behavioral and neuroimaging work has demonstrated the vali...
Article
Brain responses recorded during fMRI are thought to reflect both rapid, stimulus-evoked activity and the propagation of spontaneous activity through brain networks. In the current work, we describe a method to improve the estimation of task-evoked brain activity by first “filtering-out the intrinsic propagation of pre-event activity from the BOLD s...
Article
Full-text available
Stable individual differences in cognitive motivation (i.e., the tendency to engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activities) have been documented with self-report measures, yet convergent support for a trait-level construct is still lacking. In the present study, we use an innovative decision-making paradigm (COG-ED) to quantify the costs of co...
Article
Aversive motivation plays a prominent role in driving individuals to exert cognitive control. However, the complexity of behavioral responses attributed to aversive incentives creates significant challenges for developing a clear understanding of the neural mechanisms of this motivation-control interaction. We review the animal learning, systems ne...
Article
Full-text available
Studies of working memory (WM) function have tended to adopt either a within-subject approach, focusing on effects of load manipulations, or a between-subjects approach, focusing on individual differences. This dichotomy extends to WM neuroimaging studies, with different neural correlates being identified for within- and between-subjects variation...
Article
Research investigating the effects and underlying mechanisms of mindfulness on cognitive functioning has accelerated exponentially over the past two decades. Despite the rapid growth of the literature and its influential role in garnering public interest in mindfulness, inconsistent methods in defining and measuring mindfulness have yielded variabl...
Article
We describe an ambitious ongoing study that has been strongly influenced and inspired by Don Stuss's career-long efforts to identify key cognitive processes that characterize executive control, investigate potential unifying dimensions that define prefrontal function, and carefully attend to individual differences. The Dual Mechanisms of Cognitive...
Preprint
Research investigating the effects and underlying mechanisms of mindfulness on cognitive functioning has accelerated exponentially over the past two decades. Despite the rapid growth of the literature and its influential role in garnering public interest in mindfulness, inconsistent methods in defining and measuring mindfulness have yielded variabl...
Article
The ability to flexibly adapt thoughts and actions in a goal-directed manner appears to rely on cognitive control mechanisms that are strongly impacted by individual differences. A powerful research strategy for investigating the nature of individual variation is to study monozygotic (identical) twins. Evidence of twin effects have been observed in...
Article
Progress in understanding the neural bases of cognitive control has been supported by the paradigmatic color-word Stroop task, in which a target response (color name) must be selected over a more automatic, yet potentially incongruent, distractor response (word). For this paradigm, models have postulated complementary coding schemes: dorsomedial fr...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cognitive control is a critical higher mental function, which is subject to considerable individual variation and is impaired in a range of mental health disorders. We describe here the initial release of Dual Mechanisms of Cognitive Control (DMCC) project data, the DMCC55B dataset, with 55 healthy unrelated young adult participants. Each participa...
Preprint
Full-text available
Aversive motivation plays a prominent role in motivating individuals to exert cognitive control. However, a significant obstacle has been the complexity of behavioral responses attributed to aversive incentives. In this review, we posit that incorporating motivational context and mixed motivation will enhance our current understanding of the neural...
Article
Cognitive control relies on distributed and potentially high-dimensional frontoparietal task representations. Yet, the classical cognitive neuroscience approach in this domain has focused on aggregating and contrasting neural measures – either via univariate or multivariate methods – along highly abstracted, 1D factors (e.g., Stroop congruency). He...
Article
Humans can seamlessly combine value signals from diverse motivational incentives, yet it is not well-understood how these signals are "bundled" in the brain to modulate cognitive control. The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is theorized to integrate motivational value dimensions in the service of goal-directed action, though this hypothesis...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Objective measures of listening effort have been gaining prominence, as they provide metrics to quantify the difficulty of understanding speech under a variety of circumstances. A key challenge has been to develop paradigms that enable the complementary measurement of subjective listening effort in a quantitatively precise manner. In this s...
Chapter
A core challenge of cognitive, computational, and systems neuroscience research is to provide a satisfying answer to the following question: how does cognition arise from neural systems? Although researchers have spent decades using a variety of tools (e.g., magnetic resonance imaging, electroencephalography, single-unit recordings) to investigate...
Preprint
Full-text available
Brain responses recorded during fMRI are thought to reflect both rapid, stimulus-evoked activity and the propagation of spontaneous activity through brain networks. In the current work we describe a method to improve the estimation of task-evoked brain activity by first “filtering-out” the intrinsic propagation of pre-event activity from the BOLD s...
Preprint
Progress in understanding the neural bases of cognitive control has been supported by the paradigmatic color-word Stroop task, in which a target response (color name) must be selected over a more automatic, yet potentially incongruent, distractor response (word). For this paradigm, models have postulated complementary coding schemes: dorsomedial fr...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ability to flexibly adapt thoughts and actions in a goal-directed manner appears to rely on cognitive control mechanisms that are strongly impacted by individual differences. A powerful research strategy for investigating the nature of individual variation is to study monozygotic (identical) twins. Evidence of twin effects have been observed in...
Preprint
Full-text available
Humans can seamlessly combine value signals from diverse motivational incentives, yet it is not well-understood how these signals are “bundled” in the brain to modulate cognitive control. The dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is theorized to integrate motivational value dimensions in the service of goal-directed action, though this hypothesis...
Article
No PDF available ABSTRACT Objective measures of listening effort have been gaining prominence, as they provide metrics to quantify the difficulty of understanding speech. A key challenge has been to develop paradigms that enable the complementary measurement of subjective listening effort in a quantitatively precise manner. In the present study, we...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Dual Mechanisms of Cognitive Control (DMCC) project provides an ambitious and rigorous empirical test of a theoretical framework that posits two key cognitive control modes: proactive and reactive. The framework’s central tenets are that proactive and reactive control reflect domain-general dimensions of individual variation, with distinctive n...
Preprint
Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) represents a promising approach to study adult development and aging. In contrast to laboratory-based studies, EMA involves the repeated sampling of experiences in daily life contexts, enabling investigators to gain access to dynamic processes (e.g., situational contexts, intra-individual variability) that are...
Article
Full-text available
Humans are social creatures and, as such, can be motivated by aspects of social life (e.g., approval from others) to guide decision-making in everyday contexts. Indeed, a common view is that people may have stronger orientation toward social goals or incentives relative to other incentive modalities, such as food or money. However, current studies...
Preprint
The capacity for cognitive control relies on distributed and potentially high-dimensional frontoparietal task representations. Yet the classical cognitive neuroscience approach in this domain has focused on aggregating and contrasting neural measures --- either via univariate or multivariate classification methods --- along highly abstracted, one-d...
Article
Objective: For many biophysical systems, direct measurement of all state-variables, in - vivo is not feasible. Thus, a key challenge in biological modeling and signal processing is to reconstruct the activity and structure of interesting biological systems from indirect measurements. These measurements are often generated by approximately linear t...
Article
Full-text available
Abstrac A key challenge for neuroscience is to develop generative, causal models of the human nervous system in an individualized, data-driven manner. Previous initiatives have either constructed biologically-plausible models that are not constrained by individual-level human brain activity or used data-driven statistical characterizations of indiv...
Article
Full-text available
The growing popularity of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) has prompted exciting scientific research investigating their beneficial effects on well-being and health. Most mindfulness programs are provided as multi-faceted packages encompassing a set of different mindfulness techniques, each with distinct focus and mechanisms. However, this ap...
Article
Full-text available
A growing body of research indicates that mindfulness training can have beneficial effects on critical aspects of psychological well-being, cognitive function, and brain health. Although these benefits have been generalized to the population level, individual variability in observed effects of mindfulness training has not been systematically invest...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Reward behaviors including those related to eating are influenced by output from the ventral striatum (VS), dorsal striatal [caudate(Cau) and putamen(Put)]and hypothalamus (HTH). We hypothesized that weight loss would induce modifications in activation in these regions of interest (ROI) during a consummatory reward task. Methods: We rec...
Article
Mindfulness training (MT) has shown promise in improving psychological health among college students yet has rarely been evaluated as an addition to the college academic curriculum. Here, we demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of a first-year MT seminar offered to residential students at a selective private university, evaluating its impa...
Article
Delay of gratification (DofG) refers to the capacity to forego an immediate reward in order to receive a more desirable reward later. As a core executive function, it might be expected that DofG would follow the standard pattern of age-related decline observed in older adults for other executive tasks. However, there actually have been few studies...
Preprint
Full-text available
For many biophysical systems, direct measurement of all state-variables, in-vivo is not-feasible. Thus, a key challenge in biological modeling and signal processing is to reconstruct the activity and structure of interesting biological systems from indirect measurements. These measurements are often generated by approximately linear time-invariant...
Preprint
The growing popularity of mindfulness-based interventions has prompted exciting scientific research regarding their beneficial effects on well-being and health. Most mindfulness programs are provided as multi-faceted packages encompassing a set of different mindfulness techniques, each with distinct focus and mechanisms. However, this approach over...
Article
Pattern similarity analyses are increasingly used to characterize coding properties of brain regions, but relatively few have focused on cognitive control processes in FrontoParietal regions. Here, we use the Human Connectome Project (HCP) N-back task functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) dataset to examine individual differences and genetic...
Preprint
Objective measures of listening effort have been gaining increasing prominence, as they provide metrics to quantify the difficulty of understanding speech under a variety of circumstances. A key challenge has been to develop paradigms that enable the complementary measurement of subjective listening effort in a quantitatively precise manner. In the...
Article
Full-text available
Working memory (WM) function has traditionally been investigated in terms of two dimensions: within-individual effects of WM load, and between-individual differences in task performance. In human neuroimaging studies, the N-back task has frequently been used to study both. A reliable finding is that activation in frontoparietal regions exhibits an...
Preprint
Full-text available
Il s'agit de la traduction du chapitre introductif de l'ouvrage coordonné par Todd S. Braver (2016), intitulé Motivation et contôle cognitif. Il s'agit d'un domaine en pleine expansion et devrait intéresser les chercheurs, les étudiants, les médecins y compris dans les domaines de la remédiation cognitive comme de la psychiatrie et de l'enseignemen...
Article
Recently, experimental tasks have been developed that index individual differences in willingness to expend effort for reward. However, little is known regarding whether such measures are associated with daily experience of effort. To test this, 31 participants completed an ecological momentary assessment (EMA) protocol, answering surveys regarding...
Preprint
Mindfulness training has shown promise in improving psychological health and cognitive function. Mindfulness skills may be particularly beneficial in helping first-year students’ transition to college, as this can be a time period of considerable lifestyle changes and increased stress. Previous research has demonstrated positive effects of mindfuln...
Article
Several studies have evaluated the effect of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the prefrontal cortex (PFC) for the enhancement of working memory (WM) performance in healthy older adults. However, the mixed results obtained so far suggest the need for concurrent brain imaging, in order to more directly examine tDCS effects....
Preprint
Full-text available
A key challenge for neuroscience is to develop generative, causal models of the human nervous system in an individualized, data-driven manner. Previous initiatives have either constructed biologically-plausible models that are not constrained by individual-level human brain activity or used data-driven statistical characterizations of individuals t...
Preprint
Full-text available
Pattern similarity analyses are increasingly used to characterize coding properties of brain regions, but relatively few have focused on cognitive control processes in FrontoParietal regions. Here, we use the Human Connectome Project (HCP) N-back task fMRI dataset to examine individual differences and genetic influences on the coding of working mem...
Article
Motivational incentives play an influential role in value-based decision-making and cognitive control. A compelling hypothesis in the literature suggests that the motivational value of diverse incentives are integrated in the brain into a common currency value signal that influences decision-making and behavior. To investigate whether motivational...
Article
Cognitive control is necessary for goal-directed behavior, yet people treat cognitive control demand as a cost, which discounts the value of rewards in a similar manner as other costs, such as delay or risk. It is unclear, however, whether the subjective value (SV) of cognitive effort is encoded in the same putatively domain-general brain valuation...
Article
Full-text available
Several studies have evaluated the effect of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) over the prefrontal cortex (PFC) for the enhancement of working memory (WM) performance. However, results are mixed, and the functional consequences of prefrontal tDCS during WM tasks are still unknown, especially regarding potential benefits for cogn...
Article
Neuroimaging data is being increasingly utilized to address questions of individual difference. When examined with task-related fMRI (t-fMRI), individual differences are typically investigated via correlations between the BOLD activation signal at every voxel and a particular behavioral measure. This can be problematic because: 1) correlational des...
Preprint
Motivational incentives play an influential role in value-based decision-making and cognitive control. A compelling hypothesis in the literature suggests that the brain integrates the motivational value of diverse incentives (e.g., motivational integration) into a common currency value signal that influences decision-making and behavior. To investi...
Article
Full-text available
Reward plays a crucial role in enhancing response inhibition. While it is generally assumed that the process of response inhibition involves attentional capture and the stopping of action, it is unclear whether this ref lects a direct impact of reward on response inhibition or rather an indirect mediation via attentional capture. Here, we employed...
Preprint
Neuroimaging data is being increasingly utilized to address questions of individual difference. When examined with task-related fMRI (t-fMRI), individual differences are typically investigated via correlations between the BOLD activation signal at every voxel and a particular behavioral measure. This can be problematic because: 1) correlational des...
Preprint
This is a book chapter on computational models of cognitive control, written for an upcoming book on the topic of computational psychiatry. This chapter presents current challenges of understanding mechanisms of cognitive control, and describes four computational models which attempt to elucidate underlying neural mechanisms that give rise to cogni...
Preprint
Full-text available
Cognitive control is necessary for goal-directed behavior, yet people treat control as costly, discounting goal value by cognitive demands in a similar manner as they would for delayed or risky outcomes. It is unclear, however, whether a putatively domain-general valuation network implicated in other cost domains also encodes the subjective value (...
Article
The capability to remember and execute intentions in the future – termed prospective memory (PM) – may be of special significance for older adults to enable successful completion of important activities of daily living. Despite the importance of this cognitive function, mixed findings have been obtained regarding age-related decline in PM, and, cur...
Article
Background: Over the past decade, pattern decoding techniques have granted neuroscientists improved anatomical specificity in mapping neural representations associated with function and cognition. Dynamical patterns are of particular interest, as evidenced by the proliferation and success of frequency domain methods that reveal structured spatiote...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Over the past decade, pattern decoding techniques have granted neuroscientists improved anatomical specificity in mapping neural representations associated with function and cognition. Dynamical patterns are of particular interest, as evidenced by the proliferation and success of frequency domain methods that reveal structured spatiotem...
Article
Full-text available
Investigating individual differences in cognition requires addressing questions not often thought about in standard experimental designs, especially regarding the psychometric properties of the task. Using the AX-CPT cognitive control task as a case study example, we address four concerns that one may encounter when researching the topic of individ...
Article
Rapid instructed task learning (RITL) is one of the most remarkable human abilities, when considered from both computational and evolutionary perspectives. A key feature of RITL is that it enables new goals to be immediately pursued (and shared) following formation of task representations. Although RITL is a form of cognitive control that engenders...
Article
Humans are often remarkably fast at learning novel tasks from instructions. Such rapid instructed task learning (RITL) likely depends upon the formation of new associations between long-term memory representations, which must then be actively maintained to enable successful task implementation. Consequently, we hypothesized that RITL relies more he...
Article
Intertemporal decision-making involves simultaneous evaluation of both the magnitude and delay to reward, which may require the integrated representation and comparison of these dimensions within working memory (WM). In the current study, neural activation associated with intertemporal decision-making was directly compared with WM load-related acti...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter reviews evidence that the balance between control stability and flexibility is supported by context maintenance in the prefrontal cortex and flexible representation updating via a dopaminergic gating mechanism. It discusses how context processing can be understood as supporting dual mechanisms of cognitive control characterised by dist...