Dynamics of cognitive control: Theoretical bases, paradigms, and a view for the future

Gabriele Gratton, Patrick Cooper, Monica Fabiani, Cameron S. Carter, Frini Karayanidis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Cognitive control (with the closely related concepts of attention control and executive function) encompasses the collection of processes that are involved in generating and maintaining appropriate task goals and suppressing task goals that are no longer relevant, as well as the way in which current goal representations are used to modify attentional biases to improve task performance. Here, we provide a comprehensive but nonexhaustive review of this complex literature, with an emphasis on the contributions made by techniques for studying human brain function. The review is divided into five sections: (a) overview and historical perspective of cognitive control, its subcomponent processes, and its neural substrate; (b) most common types of tasks used to assess and/or manipulate the level of control; (c) main research findings obtained with various imaging methodologies, with a focus on ERP data, and briefer overviews of oscillatory (event-related spectral perturbations) and fMRI data; (d) major theories of cognitive control; and (e) discussion of open questions regarding how to integrate the various dimensions of control, as well as the faster versus slower temporal dynamics informing this complex and multifaceted concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13016
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • EEG
  • ERPs
  • cognitive control
  • control dynamics
  • executive function
  • fMRI
  • neuroimaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


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