The contribution of the right inferior frontal cortex to response inhibition has been demonstrated by previous studies of neuropsychology, electrophysiology, and neuroimaging. The inferior frontal cortex is also known to be activated during processing of infrequent stimuli such as stimulus-driven attention. Response inhibition has most often been investigated using the go/no-go task, and the no-go trials are usually given infrequently to enhance prepotent response tendency. Thus, it has not been clarified whether the inferior frontal activation during the go/no-go task is associated with response inhibition or processing of infrequent stimuli. In the present functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we employed not only frequent-go trials but also infrequent-go trials that were presented as infrequently as the no-go trials. The imaging results demonstrated that the posterior inferior frontal gyrus (pIFG) was activated during response inhibition as revealed by the no-go vs. infrequent-go trials, whereas the inferior frontal junction (IFJ) region was activated primarily during processing of infrequent stimuli as revealed by the infrequent-go versus frequent-go trials. These results indicate that the pIFG and IFJ within the inferior frontal cortex are spatially close but are associated with different cognitive control processes in the go/no-go paradigm.
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