Functional brain activation associated with inhibitory control deficits in older adults

James P Coxon, Daniel J Goble, Inge Leunissen, Annouchka Van Impe, Nicole Wenderoth, Stephan P Swinnen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


In young adults, canceling an initiated action depends on the right inferior frontal cortex (IFC), presupplementary motor area (preSMA), and the basal ganglia. Older adults show response inhibition deficits, but how this relates to functional brain activation remains unclear. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we tested whether older adults (N = 20) exhibit overactivation during stop-signal inhibition as shown for attentional control tasks, or reduced activity compared with young adults (N = 20). We used a modified stop-signal task involving coupled bimanual responses and manipulated whether both or just one hand was cued to stop. Stop-task difficulty was matched across groups. We found a group by condition interaction in supramarginal gyrus, anterior insula, rIFC, and preSMA, with activation increasing for successful Stop versus Go trials in the young adults only. Comparing the groups on Stop trials revealed preSMA and striatum hypoactivity for older adults. White matter tracts connecting rIFC, preSMA, and the subthalamic nuclei were associated with stronger activation of preSMA in older adults, suggesting that maintenance of the brain s structure has positive implications for brain function
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Cite this