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Keywords:

  • frontoparietal network;
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging;
  • goal-directed behaviour;
  • response inhibition

Abstract

Stop-signal paradigms operationalize a basic test of goal-directed behaviour whereby an overarching stop goal that is performed intermittently must be maintained throughout ongoing performance of a reaction time go task (go goal). Previous studies of sustained brain activation during stop-signal task performance in humans did not observe activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) that, in concert with the parietal cortex, is known to subserve goal maintenance. Here we explored the hypothesis that a DLPFC and parietal network has a key role in supporting ongoing stop-signal task performance. We used a blocked functional magnetic resonance imaging design that included blocks of trials containing typical stop-signal paradigm stimuli that were performed under three conditions: Stop condition, which required reaction time responding to go stimuli and inhibition of cued responses upon presentation of a stop signal; Go condition, identical except that the tone was ignored; and Passive condition, which required only quiescent attention to stimuli. We found that, whereas a distributed corticothalamic network was more active in Stop compared with Go, only the right DLPFC and bilateral parietal cortex survived after masking that contrast with Stop compared with Passive. These findings indicate that sustained activation of a right dominant frontoparietal network supports stop goal processes during ongoing performance of the stop-signal task.