Common and unique components of response inhibition revealed by fMRI

Neuroimage. 2005 Aug 15;27(2):323-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.01.054.


The ability to inhibit inappropriate responses is central to cognitive control, but whether the same brain mechanisms mediate inhibition across different tasks is not known. We present evidence for a common set of frontal and parietal regions engaged in response inhibition across three tasks: a go/no-go task, a flanker task, and a stimulus-response compatibility task. Regions included bilateral anterior insula/frontal operculum and anterior prefrontal, right dorsolateral and premotor, and parietal cortices. Insula activity was positively correlated with interference costs in behavioral performance in each task. Principal components analysis showed a coherent pattern of individual differences in these regions that was also positively correlated with performance in all three tasks. However, correlations among tasks were low, for both brain activity and performance. We suggest that common interference detection and/or resolution mechanisms are engaged across tasks, and that inter-task correlations in behavioral performance are low because they conflate measurements of common mechanisms with measurements of individual biases unique to each task.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Individuality
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reading
  • Saccades / physiology