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J Neurosci. 2008 Sep 24;28(39):9790-6. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1465-08.2008.

Function and structure of the right inferior frontal cortex predict individual differences in response inhibition: a model-based approach.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Amsterdam Center for the Study of Adaptive Control in Brain and Behavior (Acacia), Amsterdam, the Netherlands. b.u.forstmann@uva.nl


The ability to suppress one's impulses and actions constitutes a fundamental mechanism of cognitive control, thought to be subserved by the right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC). The neural bases of more selective inhibitory control when selecting between two actions have thus far remained articulated with less precision. Selective inhibition can be explored in detail by extracting parameters from response time (RT) distributions as derived from performance in the Simon task. Individual differences in RT distribution parameters not only can be used to probe the efficiency and temporal dynamics of selective response inhibition, but also allow a more detailed analysis of functional neuroimaging data. Such model-based analyses, which capitalize on individual differences, have demonstrated that selective response inhibition is subserved by the rIFC. The aim of the present study was to specify the relationship between model parameters of response inhibition and their functional and structural underpinnings in the brain. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data were obtained from healthy participants while performing a Simon task in which irrelevant information can activate incorrect responses that should be selectively inhibited in favor of selecting the correct response. In addition, structural data on the density of coherency of white matter tracts were obtained using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The analyses aimed at quantifying the extent to which RT distribution measures of response inhibition are associated with individual differences in both rIFC function and structure. The results revealed a strong correlation between the model parameters and both fMRI and DTI characteristics of the rIFC. In general, our results reveal that individual differences in inhibition are accompanied by differences in both brain function and structure.

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