fMRI evidence that the neural basis of response inhibition is task-dependent

Stewart H. Mostofsky, Joanna G.B. Schafer, Michael T. Abrams, Melissa C. Goldberg, Abigail A. Flower, Avery Boyce, Susan M. Courtney, Vince D. Calhoun, Michael A. Kraut, Martha B. Denckla, James J. Pekar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

238 Scopus citations


Event-related fMRI was used to investigate the hypothesis that neural activity involved in response inhibition depends upon the nature of the response being inhibited. Two different Go/No-go tasks were compared - one with a high working memory load and one with low. The 'simple' Go/No-go task with low working memory load required subjects to push a button in response to green spaceships but not red spaceships. A 'counting' Go/No-go task (high working memory load) required subjects to respond to green spaceships as well as to those red spaceships preceded by an even number of green spaceships. In both tasks, stimuli were presented every 1.5 s with a 5:1 ratio of green-to-red spaceships. fMRI group data for each task were analyzed using random effects models to determine signal change patterns associated with Go events and No-go events (corrected P≤0.05). For both tasks, Go responses were associated with signal change in the left primary sensorimotor cortex, supplementary motor area (SMA) proper, and anterior cerebellum (right>left). For the simple task, No-go events were associated with activation in the pre-SMA; the working memory-loaded 'counting' task elicited additional No-go activation in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that neural contributions to response inhibition may be task dependent; the pre-SMA appears necessary for inhibition of unwanted movements, while the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is recruited for tasks involving increased working memory load.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-430
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 15 2003


  • Cerebellum
  • Doroslateral prefrontal cortex
  • Go/No-go
  • Response inhibition
  • Supplementary motor area
  • Working memory
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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