Distinct neural activation patterns of age in subcomponents of inhibitory control: A fMRI meta-analysis

Front Aging Neurosci. 2022 Aug 5:14:938789. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2022.938789. eCollection 2022.


Inhibitory control (IC) is a fundamental cognitive function showing age-related change across the healthy lifespan. Since different cognitive resources are needed in the two subcomponents of IC (cognitive inhibition and response inhibition), regions of the brain are differentially activated. In this study, we aimed to determine whether there is a distinct age-related activation pattern in these two subcomponents. A total of 278 fMRI articles were included in the current analysis. Multilevel kernel density analysis was used to provide data on brain activation under each subcomponent of IC. Contrast analyses were conducted to capture the distinct activated brain regions for the two subcomponents, whereas meta-regression analyses were performed to identify brain regions with distinct age-related activation patterns in the two subcomponents of IC. The results showed that the right inferior frontal gyrus and the bilateral insula were activated during the two IC subcomponents. Contrast analyses revealed stronger activation in the superior parietal lobule during cognitive inhibition, whereas stronger activation during response inhibition was observed primarily in the right inferior frontal gyrus, bilateral insula, and angular gyrus. Furthermore, regression analyses showed that activation of the left anterior cingulate cortex, left inferior frontal gyrus, bilateral insula, and left superior parietal lobule increased and decreased with age during cognitive inhibition and response inhibition, respectively. The results showed distinct activation patterns of aging for the two subcomponents of IC, which may be related to the differential cognitive resources recruited. These findings may help to enhance knowledge of age-related changes in the activation patterns of IC.

Keywords: aging; cognitive inhibition; fMRI; inhibitory control; response inhibition.

Grants and funding

This study was supported by the Nature Science Foundation of China (ref: 31900806). The funding organizations played no further role in study design, data collection, analysis and interpretation, and manuscript writing.