J Cogn Neurosci. 2021 Feb 11:1-18. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01691. Online ahead of print.
Previous research provided evidence for the critical importance of the prefrontal cortex (pFC) and basal ganglia (BG) for reactive motor inhibition, that is, when actions are cancelled in response to external signals. Less is known about the role of the pFC and BG in proactive motor inhibition, referring to preparation for an upcoming stop signal. In this study, patients with unilateral lesions to the BG or lateral pFC performed in a cued go/no-go task, whereas their EEG was recorded. The paradigm called for cue-based preparation for upcoming, lateralized no-go signals. Based on previous findings, we focused on EEG indices of cognitive control (prefrontal beta), motor preparation (sensorimotor mu/beta, contingent negative variation [CNV]), and preparatory attention (occipital alpha, CNV). On a behavioral level, no differences between patients and controls were found, suggesting an intact ability to proactively prepare for motor inhibition. Patients showed an altered preparatory CNV effect, but no other differences in electrophysiological activity related to proactive and reactive motor inhibition. Our results suggest a context-dependent role of BG and pFC structures in motor inhibition, being critical in reactive, unpredictable contexts, but less so in situations where one can prepare for stopping on a short timescale.