The role of the right inferior frontal gyrus: inhibition and attentional control

Adam Hampshire, Samuel R Chamberlain, Martin M Monti, John Duncan, Adrian M Owen, Adam Hampshire, Samuel R Chamberlain, Martin M Monti, John Duncan, Adrian M Owen


There is growing interest regarding the role of the right inferior frontal gyrus (RIFG) during a particular form of executive control referred to as response inhibition. However, tasks used to examine neural activity at the point of response inhibition have rarely controlled for the potentially confounding effects of attentional demand. In particular, it is unclear whether the RIFG is specifically involved in inhibitory control, or is involved more generally in the detection of salient or task relevant cues. The current fMRI study sought to clarify the role of the RIFG in executive control by holding the stimulus conditions of one of the most popular response inhibition tasks-the Stop Signal Task-constant, whilst varying the response that was required on reception of the stop signal cue. Our results reveal that the RIFG is recruited when important cues are detected, regardless of whether that detection is followed by the inhibition of a motor response, the generation of a motor response, or no external response at all.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Fig. 1
Fig. 1
Activation associated with target detection and response inhibition. Fig. 1 illustrates the similar pattern of activation observed during target detection, and during both successful and failed inhibition in the SST task. Significant clusters are rendered in a region between the inferior frontal gyrus and anterior insula in all three conditions. Target detection data are taken from (Hampshire et al., 2007) whereas SST data are taken from combined published and unpublished data sets including (Chamberlain et al., 2009).
Fig. 2
Fig. 2
ROIs defined on the basis of previously acquired SST data. Fig. 2 illustrates the regions of interest (ROIs) generated from the analysis of 81 participants who previously undertook the fMRI Stop Signal Task. (A) ROIs were rendered bilaterally in the inferior frontal gyri (LIFG & RIFG) and in the inferior parietal cortex (IPC) from the contrast of inhibition minus baseline. (B) Contrasting failed minus successful inhibition rendered ROIs in three locations in the left sensorimotor cortex (SMC1, SMC2, & SMC3) and in the right cerebellum (RCer).
Fig. 3
Fig. 3
Results from the ROI analysis. Fig. 3 illustrates the results from the main ROI analyses. The IFG bilaterally, and the left inferior parietal cortex showed significant increases in the BOLD response when the up arrow cue was detected in all three acquisition blocks. By contrast, the motor related ROIs all showed increased BOLD signal to up arrow cues selectively when the subsequent response was a button press. Interestingly, the SMC1 and SMC2 ROIs were also significantly deactivated when the subsequent response was the inhibition of a button press. ⁎ p 

Fig. 4

Results from the whole brain…

Fig. 4

Results from the whole brain analysis. (A) The whole brain analysis revealed significant…

Fig. 4
Results from the whole brain analysis. (A) The whole brain analysis revealed significant increases in BOLD signal when up arrow cues were detected across all three task conditions in a network of brain regions including the IFG bilaterally. There was no significant difference between acquisition blocks in the RIFG even at a liberal uncorrected threshold. (B) There was a significant effect of block within the left sensorimotor cortex ROIs.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4
Results from the whole brain analysis. (A) The whole brain analysis revealed significant increases in BOLD signal when up arrow cues were detected across all three task conditions in a network of brain regions including the IFG bilaterally. There was no significant difference between acquisition blocks in the RIFG even at a liberal uncorrected threshold. (B) There was a significant effect of block within the left sensorimotor cortex ROIs.


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