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The functional role of the right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) in mediating human behavior is the subject of ongoing debate. Activation of the rIFC has been associated with both response inhibition and with signaling action adaptation demands resulting from unpredicted events. The goal of this study is to investigate the role of rIFC by combining a go/no-go paradigm with paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (ppTMS) over rIFC and the primary motor cortex (M1) to probe the functional connectivity between these brain areas. Participants performed a go/no-go task with 20% or 80% of the trials requiring response inhibition (no-go trials) in a classic and a reversed version of the task, respectively. Responses were slower to infrequent compared to frequent go trials, while commission errors were more prevalent to infrequent compared to frequent no-go trials. We hypothesized that if rIFC is involved primarily in response inhibition, then rIFC should exert an inhibitory influence over M1 on no-go (inhibition) trials regardless of no-go probability. If, by contrast, rIFC has a role on unexpected trials other than just response inhibition then rIFC should influence M1 on infrequent trials regardless of response demands. We observed that rIFC suppressed M1 excitability during frequent no-go trials, but not during infrequent no-go trials, suggesting that the role of rIFC in response inhibition is context dependent rather than generic. Importantly, rIFC was found to facilitate M1 excitability on all low frequent trials, irrespective of whether the infrequent event involved response inhibition, a finding more in line with a predictive coding framework of cognitive control.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Hum Neurosci

Publication Date





TMS, go/no-go task, inhibition, motor cortex, paired-pulse, prediction, rIFC