Neural Basis of Cognitive Control over Movement Inhibition: Human fMRI and Primate Electrophysiology Evidence

Kitty Z. Xu, Brian A. Anderson, Erik E. Emeric, Anthony W. Sali, Veit Stuphorn, Steven Yantis, Susan Courtney-Faruqee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Executive control involves the ability to flexibly inhibit or change an action when it is contextually inappropriate. Using the complimentary techniques of human fMRI and monkey electrophysiology in a context-dependent stop signal task, we found a functional double dissociation between the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (rVLPFC) and the bi-lateral frontal eye field (FEF). Different regions of rVLPFC were associated with context-based signal meaning versus intention to inhibit a response, while FEF activity corresponded to success or failure of the response inhibition regardless of the stimulus response mapping or the context. These results were validated by electrophysiological recordings in rVLPFC and FEF from one monkey. Inhibition of a planned behavior is therefore likely not governed by a single brain system as had been previously proposed, but instead depends on two distinct neural processes involving different sub-regions of the rVLPFC and their interactions with other motor-related brain regions. Xu et al. present a rare combination of complementary evidence from human fMRI and primate neurophysiology, demonstrating that response inhibition is not directly accomplished by the rVLPFC, but instead requires multiple, distinct rVLPFC networks involving attention and contextual stimulus interpretation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1447-1458.e6
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 20 2017



  • cognitive control
  • context manipulation
  • context manipulation
  • countermanding
  • executive control
  • eye movement
  • fMRI
  • frontal cortex
  • frontal cortex electrophysiology
  • primate electrophysiology
  • response inhibition
  • response inhibition
  • saccades

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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