Successful inhibitory control over an immediate reward is associated with attentional disengagement in visual processing areas

David Anthony O'Connor, Sarah Rossiter, Murat Yucel, Dan Lubman, Robert L Hester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


We examined the neural basis of the capacity to resist an immediately rewarding stimulus in order to obtain a larger delayed reward. This was investigated with a Go/No-go task employing No-go targets that provided two types of reward outcomes. These were contingent on inhibitory control performance: failure to inhibit Reward No-go targets provided a small monetary reward with immediate feedback; while successful inhibitory control resulted in larger rewards with delayed feedback based on the highest number of consecutive inhibitions. We observed faster Go trial responses with maintained levels of inhibition accuracy during the Reward No-go condition compared to a neutral No-go condition. Comparisons between conditions of BOLD activity showed successful inhibitory control over rewarding No-Go targets was associated with hypoactivity in regions previously associated with regulating emotion and inhibitory control, including insula and right inferior frontal gyrus. In addition, regions previously associated with visual processing centers that are modulated as a function of visual attention, namely the left fusiform and right superior temporal gyri, were hypoactive. These findings suggest a role for attentional disengagement as an aid to withholding response over a rewarding stimulus and are consistent with the notion that gratification can be delayed by directing attention away from immediate rewards.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1841 - 1847
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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