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Brain Stimul. 2013 Sep;6(5):769-76. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2013.02.002. Epub 2013 Mar 21.

Stimulation of the pre-SMA influences cerebral blood flow in frontal areas involved with inhibitory control of action.

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Research Imaging Centre, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Division of Brain, Imaging and Behaviour - Systems Neuroscience, Toronto Western Research Institute, UHN, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Selection of the most appropriate response necessitates inhibition of competing or prepotent responses. It is important to characterize which cortical areas are relevant to achieve response inhibition. Using the stop signal task, previous imaging studies revealed consistent activation in the right pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA). However, imaging alone suffers from the limitation that it can only provide neuronal correlates and cannot establish causality between brain activation and behavior. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can be used to temporarily interfere with the function of a cortical area considered to play a specific role in the behavior. Thus, we combined rTMS with H(2)(15)O positron emission tomography (PET) scans during the stop signal task, to test whether rTMS-induced changes in excitability of the right pre-SMA influenced response inhibition. We found that rTMS over the pre-SMA increased the efficiency of the inhibitory control over prepotent ongoing responses. A significant interaction was present in the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) along with an increase in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in the left pre-SMA, left IFG, right premotor and right inferior parietal cortex. These areas best fitted the path analysis model in the effective connectivity model. The results of this study suggest that stimulation of the right pre-SMA, by interfering with its activity, may have a significant impact on response inhibition.


PET; Pre-SMA; Response inhibition; Stop signal task; Theta burst

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