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Nat Neurosci. 2015 Oct;18(10):1501-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.4110. Epub 2015 Sep 14.

Basal forebrain neuronal inhibition enables rapid behavioral stopping.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
Neural Circuits and Cognition Unit, Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.


Cognitive inhibitory control, the ability to rapidly suppress responses inappropriate for the context, is essential for flexible and adaptive behavior. Although most studies on inhibitory control have focused on the fronto-basal-ganglia circuit, we found that rapid behavioral stopping is enabled by neuronal inhibition in the basal forebrain (BF). In rats performing the stop signal task, putative noncholinergic BF neurons with phasic bursting responses to the go signal were nearly completely inhibited by the stop signal. The onset of BF neuronal inhibition was tightly coupled with and temporally preceded the latency to stop, the stop signal reaction time. Artificial inhibition of BF activity in the absence of the stop signal was sufficient to reproduce rapid behavioral stopping. These results reveal a previously unknown subcortical mechanism of rapid inhibitory control by the BF, which provides bidirectional control over the speed of response generation and inhibition.

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