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Journal Article

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over inferior frontal cortex impairs the suppression (but not expression) of action impulses during action conflict


Kunert,  Richard
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, External Organizations;
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Van Campen, A. D., Kunert, R., Van den Wildenberg, W. P. M., & Ridderinkhof, K. R. (2018). Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation over inferior frontal cortex impairs the suppression (but not expression) of action impulses during action conflict. Psychophysiology, 55(3): e13003. doi:10.1111/psyp.13003.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0000-B5C2-8
In the recent literature, the effects of noninvasive neurostimulation on cognitive functioning appear to lack consistency and replicability. We propose that such effects may be concealed unless dedicated, sensitive, and process-specific dependent measures are used. The expression and subsequent suppression of response capture are often studied using conflict tasks. Response-time distribution analyses have been argued to provide specific measures of the susceptibility to make fast impulsive response errors, as well as the proficiency of the selective suppression of these impulses. These measures of response capture and response inhibition are particularly sensitive to experimental manipulations and clinical deficiencies that are typically obfuscated in commonly used overall performance analyses. Recent work using structural and functional imaging techniques links these behavioral outcome measures to the integrity of frontostriatal networks. These studies suggest that the presupplementary motor area (pre-SMA) is linked to the susceptibility to response capture whereas the right inferior frontal cortex (rIFC) is associated with the selective suppression of action impulses. Here, we used repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to test the causal involvement of these two cortical areas in response capture and inhibition in the Simon task. Disruption of rIFC function specifically impaired selective suppression of conflicting action tendencies, whereas the anticipated increase of fast impulsive errors after perturbing pre-SMA function was not confirmed. These results provide a proof of principle of the notion that the selection of appropriate dependent measures is perhaps crucial to establish the effects of neurostimulation on specific cognitive functions.