Proactive inhibitory control varies with task context


Dr S. Ben Hamed, as above.


The goal of executive control is to adjust our behaviour to the environment. It involves not only the continuous planning and adaptation of actions but also the inhibition of inappropriate movements. Recently, a proactive form of inhibitory control has been shown, demonstrating that actions can be withheld, in an uncertain environment, thanks to the proactive locking of the mechanism by which motor commands are triggered (e.g. while waiting at traffic lights in a dense pedestrian zone, one will refrain in anticipation of a brisk acceleration when the green light comes on). However, little is known about this executive function and it remains unclear whether the overall amount of inhibitory control can be modulated as a function of the context. Here, we show that the level of this control varies parametrically as a function of the exogenous and endogenous factors setting the task context. We also show that the level of implemented proactive inhibitory control is dynamically readjusted to match the implicit temporal structure of the environment. These observations are discussed in relation to possible underlying functional substrates and related neurological and psychiatric pathologies.