Intracranial electroencephalography reveals different temporal profiles for dorsal- and ventro-lateral prefrontal cortex in preparing to stop action

Cereb Cortex. 2013 Oct;23(10):2479-88. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs245. Epub 2012 Aug 9.


Preparing to stop an inappropriate action requires keeping in mind the task goal and using this to influence the action control system. We tested the hypothesis that different subregions of prefrontal cortex show different temporal profiles consistent with dissociable contributions to preparing-to-stop, with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) representing the task goal and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) implementing action control. Five human subjects were studied using electrocorticography recorded from subdural grids over right lateral frontal cortex. On each trial, a task cue instructed the subject whether stopping might be needed or not (Maybe Stop [MS] or No Stop [NS]), followed by a go cue, and on some MS trials, a subsequent stop signal. We focused on go trials, comparing MS with NS. In the DLPFC, most subjects had an increase in high gamma activity following the task cue and the go cue. In contrast, in the VLPFC, all subjects had activity after the go cue near the time of the motor response on MS trials, related to behavioral slowing, and significantly later than the DLPFC activity. These different temporal profiles suggest that DLPFC and VLPFC could have dissociable roles, with DLPFC representing task goals and VLPFC implementing action control.

Keywords: cognitive control; electrocorticography; gamma frequency band; stop signal task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Waves*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Time Factors