Plastic modifications within inhibitory control networks induced by practicing a stop-signal task: an electrical neuroimaging study

Cortex. 2013 Apr;49(4):1141-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2012.12.009. Epub 2012 Dec 19.


Introduction: Inhibitory control refers to our ability to suppress ongoing motor, affective or cognitive processes and mostly depends on a fronto-basal brain network. Inhibitory control deficits participate in the emergence of several prominent psychiatric conditions, including attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder or addiction. The rehabilitation of these pathologies might therefore benefit from training-based behavioral interventions aiming at improving inhibitory control proficiency and normalizing the underlying neurophysiological mechanisms. The development of an efficient inhibitory control training regimen first requires determining the effects of practicing inhibition tasks.

Methods: We addressed this question by contrasting behavioral performance and electrical neuroimaging analyses of event-related potentials (ERPs) recorded from humans at the beginning versus the end of 1 h of practice on a stop-signal task (SST) involving the withholding of responses when a stop signal was presented during a speeded auditory discrimination task.

Results: Practicing a short SST improved behavioral performance. Electrophysiologically, ERPs differed topographically at 200 msec post-stimulus onset, indicative of the engagement of distinct brain network with learning. Source estimations localized this effect within the inferior frontal gyrus, the pre-supplementary motor area and the basal ganglia.

Conclusion: Our collective results indicate that behavioral and brain responses during an inhibitory control task are subject to fast plastic changes and provide evidence that high-order fronto-basal executive networks can be modified by practicing a SST.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Practice, Psychological*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Young Adult