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J Neurosci. 2006 Jan 4;26(1):186-92.

Imaging response inhibition in a stop-signal task: neural correlates independent of signal monitoring and post-response processing.

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Department of Psychiatry, Magnetic Resonance Research Center, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06519, USA.


Execution of higher cortical functions requires inhibitory control to restrain habitual responses and meet changing task demands. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to show the neural correlates of response inhibition during a stop-signal task. The task has a frequent "go" stimulus to set up a pre-potent response tendency and a less frequent "stop" signal for subjects to withhold their response. We contrasted brain activation between successful and failed inhibition for individual subjects and compared groups of subjects with short and long stop-signal reaction times. The two groups of subjects did not differ in their inhibition failure rates or the extent of signal monitoring, error monitoring, or task-associated frustration ratings. The results showed that short stop-signal reaction time or more efficient response inhibition was associated with greater activation in the superior medial and precentral frontal cortices. Moreover, activation of these inhibitory motor areas correlated negatively with stop-signal reaction time. These brain regions may represent the neural substrata of response inhibition independent of other cognitive and affective functions.

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