CoActions Lab

Cognition and Actions Lab

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Inhibitory control

inhibitionFlexibility in cognitive control requires being able to selectively navigate through continuous sets of action choices. One important aspect of cognitive control is inhibitory control, which includes the ability to refrain from reacting automatically towards preset stimulus-driven responses that are inappropriate or unsafe, to prevent or withhold internal impulses (e.g. eating unhealthy food or drinking too much alcohol), or to suddenly interrupt ongoing actions that are no longer appropriate (e.g. aborting a foot movement towards the accelerator when a pedestrian suddenly runs into the street).
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) studies in humans have shown that these behaviors engage processes that suppress excitability within the corticospinal tract. Inhibition of the motor output pathway has been extensively studied in the context of action stopping, where a planned movement needs to be abruptly aborted. Recent TMS work has also revealed markers of motor inhibition during the preparation of movement, a phenomenon referred to as preparatory inhibition. Understanding the function(s) and the neural substrates of such preparatory inhibition is the goal of several current research projects in the lab.

As one of the hypothesized function of preparatory inhibition is to help holding back inappropriate motor responses, we are evaluating this phenomenon in a population characterized by a lack of inhibitory control; i.e. in alcohol-dependent patients. Recently, we have demonstrated that patients suffer from a deficit in such inhibition. Moreover, we have shown that patients with the strongest deficits were those who would subsequently relapse, indicating that the level of preparatory inhibition might represent a new biomarker for the risk for relapse. Currently, we are assessing the relationship between this inhibition and brain damage induced by chronic alcohol consumption, such as measured with magnetic reasoning imaging (MRI), as well as the impact of an alcohol-related exposure on preparatory inhibition, using virtual reality. In addition, we are interested in the gut-brain axis. In particular, we are evaluating whether a prebiotics supplementation in alcohol-dependent patients, by restoring the composition of the gut microbiota, allows to improve their motor inhibitory abilities. Finally, we are working with pathological gamblers to determine whether preparatory inhibition is also altered in a behavioral, substance-free, addiction.

Another clinical population in which we are currently testing preparatory inhibition are patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease (PD). In fact, PD results from an alteration in the functioning of the basal ganglia (BG) (deep structures of grey matter in the brain) mainly due to the early degeneration of a cerebral region involved in the production of dopamine, a very important neurotransmitter in the brain. By investigating this motor inhibitory control in PD patients treated by dopamine replacement therapy and/or deep brain stimulation (DBS), we hope to develop a better comprehension of the neuroanatomical structures underlying preparatory inhibition.

Moreover, we have recently developed a new experimental paradigm, allowing to dissociate different processes and the neural substrates assisting action preparation. Our hypothesis is that preparatory inhibition may reflect the control required to prepare an action both at the level of action choice and its motor realization. More precisely, in the context of choice, it would serve to regulate a speed-accuracy tradeoff. Furthermore, in the context of motor control, it would facilitate the fine-tuning of muscle activity. The interest of this new task is to allow us to give specific instructions relative to the choice and the motor response, and thus, to better understand the functional role of preparatory inhibition during action preparation. We will also investigate neural substrates assisting both processes. Finally, we currently set up a closed-loop TMS-EEG system to assess the influence of the phase of sensorimotor oscillations measured using electroencephalography (EEG), especially the mu and beta rhythms, on the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), especially corticospinal excitability at rest and preparatory suppression. 

Our hope is that such work will help elucidate the mechanisms associated with the development and maintenance of diseases characterized by excessive impulsivity (addictions, OCDs, ADHD…). Moreover, on the long term, these projects could lead to the development of novel treatment approaches to supplement classical therapies and could thus have substantial benefits for these various patient populations.

People involved:


Related publications:

  1. Wilhelm, Emmanuelle; Quoilin, Caroline; Derosiere, Gerard; Paço, Susana; Jeanjean, Anne; Duque, Julie. Corticospinal Suppression Underlying Intact Movement Preparation Fades in Parkinson's Disease. Movement Disorders (2022). 
  2. Quoilin, Caroline; de Timary Philippe; Duque, Julie. Augmented tendency to act and altered impulse control in alcohol use disorders. NeuroImage : Clinical, 31, 102738. (2021).
  3. Quoilin, Caroline; Dricot, Laurence; Genon, Sarah; de Timary, Philippe; Duque, Julie. Neural bases of inhibitory control: Combining transcranial magnetic stimulation and magnetic resonance imaging in alcohol-use disorder patients. In: Neuroimage; 224:117435 (2020).
  4. Grandjean, Julien; Duque, Julie. A TMS study of preparatory suppression in binge drinkers. In: Neuroimage Clin.; 28:102383 (2020).
  5. Quoilin, Caroline; Grandjean, Julien; Duque, Julie. Considering motor excitability during action preparation in gambling disorder: a transcranial magnetic stimulation study. In: Frontiers in Psychiatry; 11:639 (2020).
  6. Derosiere, Gerard; Vassiliadis Pierre; Duque Julie. Advanced TMS approaches to probe corticospinal excitability during action preparation. In: NeuroImage. (2020).
  7. Vassiliadis, Pierre; Derosiere, Gerard, Grandjean, Julien; Duque, Julie. Motor training strengthens corticospinal suppression during movement preparation. In: Journal of Neurophysiology (2020)
  8. Grandjean, Julien; Quoilin, Caroline; Duque, Julie. Investigating the effect of anticipating a startling acoustic stimulus on preparatory inhibition. In: Neurophysiol Clin.; 49 (2): 137-147 (2019).
  9. Quoilin, Caroline ; Fievez, Fanny; Duque, Julie. Preparatory inhibition: Impact of choice in reaction time tasks. In: Neuropsychologia; 129: 212-222 (2019).
  10. Fievez F, Cos I, Derosiere G, Quoilin C, Lambert J, Duque J. Action Preparation: an integrated Perspective of Choice and Motor Control. Frontiers in Neuroscience 2019;00081.
  11. Wilhelm E, Quoilin C, Derosiere G, Leroux V, Virlée B, Jeanjean A, Duque J. The role of Dopamine in Preparatory Inhibition: What can we learn from Parkinson’s disease? Front Neurosci. 2019. Conference abstract: 13th National Congress of the Belgian Society for Neuroscience (BSN), Brussels, Belgium. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnins.2019.96.00053
  12. Quoilin C, Wilhelm E, Maurage P, de Timary P, Duque J. Deficient inhibition in alcohol-dependence: Let’s consider the role of the motor system! Neuropsychopharmacology. 2018; 43(9): 1851-1858.
  13. Vassiliadis Pierre, Grandjean Julien, Derosiere Gerard, de Wilde Ysaline, Quemener Louise, Duque Julie. Using a double-coil TMS protocol to assess preparatory inhibition bilaterally. Frontiers in Neuroscience 12, 139, 2018.
  14. Duque J, Greenhouse I, Labruna L, Ivry RB. Physiological Markers of Motor Inhibition during Human Behavior. Trends Neurosci. 2017; 40(4): 219-236.
  15. Duque J, Petitjean C, Swinnen SP. Effect of Aging on Motor Inhibition during Action Preparation under Sensory Conflict. Front Aging Neurosci. 2016; 8: 322.
  16. Quoilin C, Lambert J, Jacob B, Klein PA, Duque J. Comparison of Motor Inhibition in Variants of the Instructed-Delay Choice Reaction Time Task. PLoS One. 2016; 11(8):e0161964.
  17. Klein PA, Duque J, Labruna L, Ivry RB. Comparison of the two cerebral hemispheres in inhibitory processes operative during movement preparation. Neuroimage. 2016; 125: 220-232.
  18. Duque J, Labruna L, Cazares C, Ivry RB. Dissociating the influence of response selection and task anticipation on corticospinal suppression during response preparation. Neuropsychologia. 2014; 65: 287-96.
  19. Labruna L, Lebon F, Duque J, Klein PA, Cazares C, Ivry RB. Generic inhibition of the selected movement and constrained inhibition of nonselected movements during response preparation. J Cogn Neurosci. 2014; 26(2): 269-78.
  20. Klein PA, Petitjean C, Olivier E, Duque J. Top-down suppression of incompatible motor activations during response selection under conflict. Neuroimage. 2014; 86: 138-49.
  21. Duque J, Olivier E, Rushworth M. Top-down inhibitory control exerted by the medial frontal cortex during action selection under conflict. J Cogn Neurosci. 2013; 25(10): 1634-48.
  22. Duque J, Labruna L, Verset S, Olivier E, Ivry RB. Dissociating the role of prefrontal and premotor cortices in controlling inhibitory mechanisms during motor preparation. J Neurosci. 2012; 32(3): 806-16.
  23. Duque J, Lew D, Mazzocchio R, Olivier E, Ivry RB. Evidence for two concurrent inhibitory mechanisms during response preparation. J Neurosci. 2010; 30(10): 3793-802.
  24. Duque J, Ivry RB. Role of corticospinal suppression during motor preparation. Cereb Cortex. 2009; 19(9): 2013-24.


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