Intracortical inhibition during volitional inhibition of prepared action

J Neurophysiol. 2006 Jun;95(6):3371-83. doi: 10.1152/jn.01334.2005. Epub 2006 Feb 22.


Volitional inhibition is the voluntary prevention of a prepared movement. Here we ask whether primary motor cortex (M1) is a site of convergence of cortical activity associated with movement preparation and volitional inhibition. Volitional inhibition was studied by presenting a stop signal before execution of an anticipated response that requires a key lift to intercept a revolving dial. Motor evoked potentials (MEPs) were elicited in intrinsic hand muscles by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to assess corticomotor excitability and short interval intracortical inhibition (sICI) during task performance. The closer the stop cue was presented to the anticipated response, the harder it was for subjects to inhibit their response. Corticomotor pathway excitability was temporally modulated during volitional inhibition. Using subthreshold TMS, corticomotor excitability was reduced for Stop trials relative to Go trials from 140 ms after the cue. sICI was significantly greater for Stop trials compared with Go trials at a time that preceded the onset of muscle activity associated with the anticipated response. These results provide evidence that volitional inhibition is exerted at a cortical level and that inhibitory networks within M1 contribute to volitional inhibition of prepared action.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Motor / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Volition / physiology*