Flexible brain network reconfiguration supporting inhibitory control

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Aug 11;112(32):10020-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1500048112. Epub 2015 Jul 27.


The ability to inhibit distracting stimuli from interfering with goal-directed behavior is crucial for success in most spheres of life. Despite an abundance of studies examining regional brain activation, knowledge of the brain networks involved in inhibitory control remains quite limited. To address this critical gap, we applied graph theory tools to functional magnetic resonance imaging data collected while a large sample of adults (n = 101) performed a color-word Stroop task. Higher demand for inhibitory control was associated with restructuring of the global network into a configuration that was more optimized for specialized processing (functional segregation), more efficient at communicating the output of such processing across the network (functional integration), and more resilient to potential interruption (resilience). In addition, there were regional changes with right inferior frontal sulcus and right anterior insula occupying more central positions as network hubs, and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex becoming more tightly coupled with its regional subnetwork. Given the crucial role of inhibitory control in goal-directed behavior, present findings identifying functional network organization supporting inhibitory control have the potential to provide additional insights into how inhibitory control may break down in a wide variety of individuals with neurological or psychiatric difficulties.

Keywords: brain network; dorsal anterior cingulate; graph theory; inhibition; inhibitory control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult