On the role of the striatum in response inhibition

  • Zandbelt B
  • Vink M
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BACKGROUND: Stopping a manual response requires suppression of the primary motor cortex (M1) and has been linked to activation of the striatum. Here, we test three hypotheses regarding the role of the striatum in stopping: striatum activation during successful stopping may reflect suppression of M1, anticipation of a stop-signal occurring, or a slower response build-up. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Twenty-four healthy volunteers underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing a stop-signal paradigm, in which anticipation of stopping was manipulated using a visual cue indicating stop-signal probability, with their right hand. We observed activation of the striatum and deactivation of left M1 during successful versus unsuccessful stopping. In addition, striatum activation was proportional to the degree of left M1 deactivation during successful stopping, implicating the striatum in response suppression. Furthermore, striatum activation increased as a function of stop-signal probability and was to linked to activation in the supplementary motor complex (SMC) and right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) during successful stopping, suggesting a role in anticipation of stopping. Finally, trial-to-trial variations in response time did not affect striatum activation. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The results identify the striatum as a critical node in the neural network associated with stopping motor responses. As striatum activation was related to both suppression of M1 and anticipation of a stop-signal occurring, these findings suggest that the striatum is involved in proactive inhibitory control over M1, most likely in interaction with SMC and rIFC.

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