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Sci Rep. 2015 Jul 31;5:12770. doi: 10.1038/srep12770.

γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) administration improves action selection processes: a randomised controlled trial.

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Institute for Psychological Research, Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Cognitive Neurophysiology, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine of the TU Dresden, Germany.


In order to accomplish a task goal, real-life environments require us to develop different action control strategies in order to rapidly react to fast-moving visual and auditory stimuli. When engaging in complex scenarios, it is essential to prioritise and cascade different actions. Recent studies have pointed to an important role of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic system in the neuromodulation of action cascading. In this study we assessed the specific causal role of the GABA-ergic system in modulating the efficiency of action cascading by administering 800 mg of synthetic GABA or 800 mg oral of microcrystalline cellulose (placebo). In a double-blind, randomised, between-group design, 30 healthy adults performed a stop-change paradigm. Results showed that the administration of GABA, compared to placebo, increased action selection when an interruption (stop) and a change towards an alternative response were required simultaneously, and when such a change had to occur after the completion of the stop process. These findings, involving the systemic administration of synthetic GABA, provide the first evidence for a possible causal role of the GABA-ergic system in modulating performance in action cascading.

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