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J Cogn Neurosci. 2013 Feb;25(2):157-74. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00309. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation and functional MRI reveal cortical and subcortical interactions during stop-signal response inhibition.

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University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands.


Stopping an action requires suppression of the primary motor cortex (M1). Inhibitory control over M1 relies on a network including the right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) and the supplementary motor complex (SMC), but how these regions interact to exert inhibitory control over M1 is unknown. Specifically, the hierarchical position of the rIFC and SMC with respect to each other, the routes by which these regions control M1, and the causal involvement of these regions in proactive and reactive inhibition remain unclear. We used off-line repetitive TMS to perturb neural activity in the rIFC and SMC followed by fMRI to examine effects on activation in the networks involved in proactive and reactive inhibition, as assessed with a modified stop-signal task. We found repetitive TMS effects on reactive inhibition only. rIFC and SMC stimulation shortened the stop-signal RT (SSRT) and a shorter SSRT was associated with increased M1 deactivation. Furthermore, rIFC and SMC stimulation increased right striatal activation, implicating frontostriatal pathways in reactive inhibition. Finally, rIFC stimulation altered SMC activation, but SMC stimulation did not alter rIFC activation, indicating that rIFC lies upstream from SMC. These findings extend our knowledge about the functional organization of inhibitory control, an important component of executive functioning, showing that rIFC exerts reactive control over M1 via SMC and right striatum.

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