Inhibitory motor control based on complex stopping goals relies on the same brain network as simple stopping

Neuroimage. 2014 Dec;103:225-234. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.09.048. Epub 2014 Sep 28.


Much research has modeled action-stopping using the stop-signal task (SST), in which an impending response has to be stopped when an explicit stop-signal occurs. A limitation of the SST is that real-world action-stopping rarely involves explicit stop-signals. Instead, the stopping-system engages when environmental features match more complex stopping goals. For example, when stepping into the street, one monitors path, velocity, size, and types of objects and only stops if there is a vehicle approaching. Here, we developed a task in which participants compared the visual features of a multidimensional go-stimulus to a complex stopping-template, and stopped their go-response if all features matched the template. We used independent component analysis of EEG data to show that the same motor inhibition brain network that explains action-stopping in the SST also implements motor inhibition in the complex-stopping task. Furthermore, we found that partial feature overlap between go-stimulus and stopping-template led to motor slowing, which also corresponded with greater stopping-network activity. This shows that the same brain system for action-stopping to explicit stop-signals is recruited to slow or stop behavior when stimuli match a complex stopping goal. The results imply a generalizability of the brain's network for simple action-stopping to more ecologically valid scenarios.

Keywords: Braking; Electroencephalography; Independent component analysis; Inhibitory control; Stop-signal task.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Young Adult