Sensorimotor-independent prefrontal activity during response inhibition

Weidong Cai, Christopher J. Cannistraci, John C. Gore, Hoi Chung Leung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


A network of brain regions involving the ventral inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula (vIFG/AI), presupplementary motor area (pre-SMA) and basal ganglia has been implicated in stopping impulsive, unwanted responses. However, whether this network plays an equal role in response inhibition under different sensorimotor contexts has not been tested systematically. Here, we conducted an fMRI experiment using the stop signal task, a sensorimotor task requiring occasional withholding of the planned response upon the presentation of a stop signal. We manipulated both the sensory modality of the stop signal (visual versus auditory) and the motor response modality (hand versus eye). Results showed that the vIFG/AI and the preSMA along with the right middle frontal gyrus were commonly activated in response inhibition across the various sensorimotor conditions. Our findings provide direct evidence for a common role of these frontal areas, but not striatal areas in response inhibition independent of the sensorimotor contexts. Nevertheless, these three frontal regions exhibited different activation patterns during successful and unsuccessful stopping. Together with the existing evidence, we suggest that the vIFG/AI is involved in the early stages of stopping such as triggering the stop process while the preSMA may play a role in regulating other cortical and subcortical regions involved in stopping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2119-2136
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive control
  • FMRI
  • Human
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Stop-signal task


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