CoActions Lab

Cognition and Actions Lab

Inhibitory control of actions

Flexibility in cognitive control requires being able to selectively navigate through continuous sets of action choices. We assume that, in the mature state, the neural system has evolved to allow us to select actions that have the highest likelihood of achieving our goals in a given context. Top-down cognitive control mechanisms are essential for guiding such goal-oriented behaviours as they enable us to plan, execute, and update behavior in response to an environment of continual change. 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, or to suddenly interrupt ongoing actions that are no longer required. We are interested in understanding how we inhibit actions. A central idea emerging from our work is that there are two distinct neural inhibitory mechanisms that shape activity of the motor system during the planning of actions. One mechanism is associated with competitive processes that occur during selection, helping to specify what response should be produced. A second inhibitory mechanism, referred to as “impulse control”, is thought to prevent premature response initiation, controlling when a selected response is executed.

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