More than just channeling: The role of subcortical mechanisms in executive functions – Evidence from the Stroop task

William Saban*, Shai Gabay, Eyal Kalanthroff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The literature has long emphasized the role of the cerebral cortex in executive functions. Recently, however, several researchers have suggested that subcortical areas might also be involved in executive functions. The current study explored the possibility that subcortical mechanisms have a functional role in adaptive resolution of Stroop interference. We asked 20 participants to complete a cued task-switching Stroop task with variable cue-target intervals (CTI). Using a stereoscope, we manipulated which eye was shown the relevant dimension and which was shown the irrelevant dimension. This technique allowed us to examine the involvement of monocularly segregated – subcortical – regions of the visual processing stream. The interference effect was modulated by this eye-of-origin manipulation in the 0 CTI condition. This finding provides a novel indication for the notion that subcortical regions have a functional role in the resolution of Stroop interference. This indication suggests that cortical regions are not solely involved and that a dynamic interaction between cortical and subcortical regions is involved in executive functions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)36-42
Number of pages7
JournalActa Psychologica
StatePublished - Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Hilla Sambal and Shlomit Rozner for help with running the experiment. This research was supported by Israel Science Foundation grant 1124/14 to SG. EK was supported by the Rothschild Foundation, the Molberger Scholar award, and Israel Science Foundation (Grant No. 79/15 ). All authors declare no conflict of interest pertaining to the present manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Cortex
  • Interference effect
  • Monocular regions
  • Stroop
  • Subcortical involvement


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