Dissociations of cognitive inhibition, response inhibition, and emotional interference: Voxelwise ALE meta-analyses of fMRI studies
Inhibitory control is the stopping of a mental process with or without intention, conceptualized as
mental suppression of competing information because of limited cognitive capacity. Inhibitory control
dysfunction is a core characteristic of many major psychiatric disorders. Inhibition is generally
thought to involve the prefrontal cortex; however, a single inhibitory mechanism is insufficient for
interpreting the heterogeneous nature of human cognition. It remains unclear whether different
dimensions of inhibitory processes—specifically cognitive inhibition, response inhibition, and emotional
interference—rely on dissociated neural systems. We conducted systematic meta-analyses of
fMRI studies in the BrainMap database supplemented by PubMed using whole-brain activation
likelihood estimation. A total of 66 study experiments including 1,447 participants and 987 foci
revealed that while the left anterior insula was concordant in all inhibitory dimensions, cognitive
inhibition reliably activated specific dorsal frontal inhibitory system, engaging dorsal anterior cingulate,
dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and parietal areas, whereas emotional interference reliably
implicated a ventral inhibitory system, involving the ventral surface of the inferior frontal gyrus and
the amygdala. Response inhibition showed concordant clusters in the fronto-striatal system, including
the dorsal anterior cingulate region and extended supplementary motor areas, the dorsal and
ventral lateral prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia, midbrain regions, and parietal regions. We provide
an empirically derived dimensional model of inhibition characterizing neural systems underlying different
aspects of inhibitory mechanisms. This study offers a fundamental framework to advance
current understanding of inhibition and provides new insights for future clinical research into
disorders with different types of inhibition-related dysfunctions.
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We often change our behavior to conform to real or imagined group pressure. Social influence on our behavior has been extensively studied in social psychology, but its neural mechanisms have remained largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that the transient downregulation of the posterior medial frontal cortex by theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation reduces conformity, as indicated by reduced conformal adjustments in line with group opinion. Both the extent and probability of conformal behavioral adjustments decreased significantly relative to a sham and a control stimulation over another brain area. The posterior part of the medial frontal cortex has previously been implicated in behavioral and attitudinal adjustments. Here, we provide the first interventional evidence of its critical role in social influence on human behavior.
Key characteristics of non-fluent (Broca, motor) aphasia are, among others, verb finding difficulties and effortful speech output. These characteristics are related to different levels of speech production (lexical retrieval and motor execution). This study was aimed at identifying normative brain activation related to verb production in healthy individuals, as well as patterns of its reorganization depending on the locus of the linguistic deficit in patients with non-fluent aphasia.
Cognitive control includes maintenance of task-specific processes related to attention, and non-specific regulation of motor threshold. Generally, two different kinds of errors may occur, with some errors related to attentional lapses and decision uncertainty, and some errors – to failures of sustaining motor threshold. Error commission leads to adaptive adjustments in brain networks that subserve goal-directed behavior, resulting in either enhanced stimulus processing or increased motor threshold depending on the nature of errors committed. We report here two studies using the auditory version of the two-choice condensation task, which is highly demanding for sustained attention while involves no inhibition of prepotent responses. We analyzed power and topography of EEG oscillations in theta, alpha, and beta frequency bands.
Experiment 1. We studied post-error adaptive adjustments resulting in optimized brain processing and behaviour on subsequent trials. Errors were followed by increased frontal midline theta (FMT) activity, as well as by enhanced alpha band suppression in the parietal and the left central regions; parietal alpha suppression correlated with the task performance, left central alpha suppression correlated with the post-error slowing, and FMT increase correlated with both behavioral measures. On post-error correct trials, left-central alpha band suppression started earlier before the response, and the response was followed by weaker FMT activity, as well as by enhanced alpha band suppression distributed over the entire scalp. These findings show the existence of three separate neuronal networks involved in post-error adjustments: the midfrontal performance monitoring network, the parietal attentional network, and the sensorimotor network.
Experiment 2. We studied if response time may be a valid approximation distinguishing trials with high and low levels of sustained attention and decision uncertainty. We found that error-related FMT activity was present only on fast erroneous trials. The feedback-related FMT activity was equally strong on slow erroneous and fast erroneous trials. Late post-response posterior alpha suppression was stronger on erroneous slow trials. Feedbackrelated frontal beta oscillations were present only on slow correct trials. The data obtained cumulatively suggests that response time allows distinguishing the two types of trials, with fast trials related to higher levels of attention and low uncertainty, and slow trials related to lower levels of attention and higher uncertainty.
Investigations of the neural correlates of face recognition have typically used old/new paradigms where subjects learn to recognize new faces or identify famous faces. Familiar faces, however, include one's own face, partner's and parents' faces. Using event-related fMRI, we examined the neural correlates of these personally familiar faces. Ten participants were presented with photographs of own, partner, parents, famous and unfamiliar faces and responded to a distinct target. Whole brain, two regions of interest (fusiform gyrus and cingulate gyrus), and multiple linear regression analyses were conducted. Compared with baseline, all familiar faces activated the fusiform gyrus; own faces also activated occipital regions and the precuneus; partner faces activated similar areas, but in addition, the parahippocampal gyrus, middle superior temporal gyri and middle frontal gyrus. Compared with unfamiliar faces, only personally familiar faces activated the cingulate gyrus and the extent of activation varied with face category. Partner faces also activated the insula, amygdala and thalamus. Regions of interest analyses and laterality indices showed anatomical distinctions of processing the personally familiar faces within the fusiform and cingulate gyri. Famous faces were right lateralized whereas personally familiar faces, particularly partner and own faces, elicited bilateral activations. Regression analyses show experiential predictors modulated with neural activity related to own and partner faces. Thus, personally familiar faces activated the core visual areas and extended frontal regions, related to semantic and person knowledge and the extent and areas of activation varied with face type.
An increased propensity for risk taking is a hallmark of adolescent behavior with significant health and social consequences. Here, we elucidated cortical and subcortical regions associated with risky and risk-averse decisions and outcome evaluation using the Balloon Analog Risk Task in a large sample of adolescents (n=256, 56% female, age 14 ± 0.6), including the level of risk as a parametric modulator. We also identified sex differences in neural activity. Risky decisions engaged regions that are parts of the salience, dorsal attention, and frontoparietal networks, but only the insula was sensitive to increasing risks in parametric analyses. During risk-averse decisions, the same networks covaried with parametric levels of risk. The dorsal striatum was engaged by both risky and risk-averse decisions, but was not sensitive to escalating risk. Negative-outcome processing showed greater activations than positive-outcome processing. Insula, lateral orbitofrontal cortex, middle, rostral, and superior frontal areas, rostral and caudal anterior cingulate cortex were activated only by negative outcomes, with a subset of regions associated with negative outcomes showing greater activation in females. Taken together, these results suggest that safe decisions are predicted by more accurate neural representation of increasing risk levels, whereas reward-related processes play a relatively minor role.