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Training-induced behavioral and brain plasticity in inhibitory control

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00427
  • Neuroscience
  • Mini Review Article
  • Law
  • Medicine


Deficits in inhibitory control, the ability to suppress ongoing or planned motor or cognitive processes, contribute to many psychiatric and neurological disorders. The rehabilitation of inhibition-related disorders may therefore benefit from neuroplasticity-based training protocols aiming at normalizing inhibitory control proficiency and the underlying brain networks. Current literature on training-induced behavioral and brain plasticity in inhibitory control suggests that improvements may follow either from the development of automatic forms of inhibition or from the strengthening of top-down, controlled inhibition. Automatic inhibition develops in conditions of consistent and repeated associations between inhibition-triggering stimuli and stopping goals. Once established, the stop signals directly elicit inhibition, thereby bypassing slow, top-down executive control and accelerating stopping processes. In contrast, training regimens involving varying stimulus-response associations or frequent inhibition failures prevent the development of automatic inhibition and thus strengthen top-down inhibitory processes rather than bottom-up ones. We discuss these findings in terms of developing optimal inhibitory control training regimens for rehabilitation purposes.

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