The basal ganglia (BG) have long been known for contributing to the regulation of motor behaviour by means of a complex interplay between tonic and phasic inhibitory mechanisms. However, after having focused for a long time on phasic reactive mechanisms, it is only recently that psychological research in healthy humans has modelled tonic proactive mechanisms of control. Mutual calibration between anatomo-functional and psychological models is still needed to better understand the unclear role of the BG in the interplay between proactive and reactive mechanisms of control. Here, we implemented an event-related fMRI design allowing proper analysis of both the brain activity preceding the target-stimulus and the brain activity induced by the target-stimulus during a simple go/nogo task, with a particular interest in the ambiguous role of the basal ganglia. Post-stimulus activity was evoked in the left dorsal striatum, the subthalamus nucleus and internal globus pallidus by any stimulus when the situation was unpredictable, pinpointing its involvement in reactive, non-selective inhibitory mechanisms when action restraint is required. Pre-stimulus activity was detected in the ventral, not the dorsal, striatum, when the situation was unpredictable, and was associated with changes in functional connectivity with the early visual, not the motor, cortex. This suggests that the ventral striatum supports modulatory influence over sensory processing during proactive control.
Keywords: fMRI; functional connectivity (PPI); go/nogo; response inhibition; task setting; visual attention.