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Title: Software Bug Detection Causes a Shift From Bottom-Up to Top-Down Effective Connectivity Involving the Insula Within the Error-Monitoring Network
Authors: Castelhano, João 
Duarte, Isabel C. 
Couceiro, Ricardo 
Medeiros, Júlio 
Durães, João 
Afonso, Sónia 
Madeira, Henrique 
Castelo Branco, Miguel 
Keywords: computer science; connectivity; error-monitoring; fMRI; insula
Issue Date: 2022
Serial title, monograph or event: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume: 16
Abstract: The neural correlates of software programming skills have been the target of an increasing number of studies in the past few years. Those studies focused on error-monitoring during software code inspection. Others have studied task-related cognitive load as measured by distinct neurophysiological measures. Most studies addressed only syntax errors (shallow level of code monitoring). However, a recent functional MRI (fMRI) study suggested a pivotal role of the insula during error-monitoring when challenging deep-level analysis of code inspection was required. This raised the hypothesis that the insula is causally involved in deep error-monitoring. To confirm this hypothesis, we carried out a new fMRI study where participants performed a deep source-code comprehension task that included error-monitoring to detect bugs in the code. The generality of our paradigm was enhanced by comparison with a variety of tasks related to text reading and bugless source-code understanding. Healthy adult programmers (N = 21) participated in this 3T fMRI experiment. The activation maps evoked by error-related events confirmed significant activations in the insula [p(Bonferroni) < 0.05]. Importantly, a posterior-to-anterior causality shift was observed concerning the role of the insula: in the absence of error, causal directions were mainly bottom-up, whereas, in their presence, the strong causal top-down effects from frontal regions, in particular, the anterior cingulate cortex was observed.
ISSN: 1662-5161
DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2022.788272
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:I&D CISUC - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais
I&D CIBIT - Artigos em Revistas Internacionais

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