Putting the brakes on inhibitory models of frontal lobe function

Neuroimage. 2015 Jun:113:340-55. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.03.053. Epub 2015 Mar 25.


There has been much recent debate regarding the neural basis of motor response inhibition. An influential hypothesis from the last decade proposes that a module within the right inferior frontal cortex (RIFC) of the human brain is dedicated to supporting response inhibition. However, there is growing evidence to support the alternative view that response inhibition is just one prominent example of the many cognitive control processes that are supported by the same set of 'domain general' functional networks. Here, I test directly between the modular and network accounts of motor response inhibition by applying a combination of data-driven, event-related and functional connectivity analyses to fMRI data from a variety of attention and inhibition tasks. The results demonstrate that there is no inhibitory module within the RIFC. Instead, response inhibition recruits a functionally heterogeneous ensemble of RIFC networks, which can be dissociated from each other in the context of other task demands.

Keywords: Attention; Cognitive control; Domain general cortex; FMRI; Functional networks; Go/no go; Independent component analysis; Phase synchrony; Response inhibition; Right inferior frontal cortex; Stop signal task; Target detection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Recruitment, Neurophysiological
  • Young Adult