Brain dynamics underlying training-induced improvement in suppressing inappropriate action
Inhibitory control, a core component of executive functions, refers to our ability to suppress intended or ongoing cognitive or motor processes. Mostly based on Go/NoGo paradigms, a considerable amount of literature reports that inhibitory control of responses to "NoGo" stimuli is mediated by top-down mechanisms manifesting ∼200 ms after stimulus onset within frontoparietal networks. However, whether inhibitory functions in humans can be trained and the supporting neurophysiological mechanisms remain unresolved. We addressed these issues by contrasting auditory evoked potentials (AEPs) to left-lateralized "Go" and right NoGo stimuli recorded at the beginning versus the end of 30 min of active auditory spatial Go/NoGo training, as well as during passive listening of the same stimuli before versus after the training session, generating two separate 2 × 2 within-subject designs. Training improved Go/NoGo proficiency. Response times to Go stimuli decreased. During active training, AEPs to NoGo, but not Go, stimuli modulated topographically with training 61-104 ms after stimulus onset, indicative of changes in the underlying brain network. Source estimations revealed that this modulation followed from decreased activity within left parietal cortices, which in turn predicted the extent of behavioral improvement. During passive listening, in contrast, effects were limited to topographic modulations of AEPs in response to Go stimuli over the 31-81 ms interval, mediated by decreased right anterior temporoparietal activity. We discuss our results in terms of the development of an automatic and bottom-up form of inhibitory control with training and a differential effect of Go/NoGo training during active executive control versus passive listening conditions.