Background/Aims: Modified rock, paper, scissors (RPS) tasks have previously been used in neuroscience to investigate activity of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). In this study, we investigated hemodynamic changes in the PFC using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) during a modified RPS task in which each subject's successful performance rate was equalized; the workload was increased parametrically in order to reveal the resulting pattern of PFC activation. Methods: The subjects were 20 healthy adults. During RPS, the player uses hand gestures to represent rock, paper, and scissors. Rock beats scissors, paper beats rock, and scissors beats paper. In the modified RPS task, the player is instructed to lose intentionally against the computer hand; the computer goes first and the player follows. The interstimulus interval (ISI) level was adjusted with 11 steps. If the level rose, the ISI decreased and the workload increased parametrically. The maximal level (maxLv: the shortest ISI and the biggest workload) in which a subject could perform the task correctly was determined for every subject during rehearsal of the task prior to the experiment. Lowering the level from the maxLv made the task easier. Hemodynamic changes were measured by NIRS over 4 task levels (maxLv-3, maxLv-2, maxLv-1 and maxLv). Results: The hemodynamic changes in the left lateral PFC and bilateral Brodmann area 6 rose significantly with the increase in workload and presented a linear trend. Conclusion: These results suggest that PFC activation may linearly increase with increased workload during a modified RPS task in which successful performance rates of subjects are equalized.
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