Home » News » Brain Region Lit Up By Inhibiting Behavior

Brain Region Lit Up By Inhibiting Behavior

Researchers are learning which areas of the brain are activated when we suppress an automatic behavior, such as the urge to look at other people in an elevator.

York University (Toronto) investigators used fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to track brain activity when study participants looked at an image of a facial expression with a word superimposed on it.

Study participants processed the words faster than the facial expressions. However, when the word did not match the image – for example, when the word “sad” was superimposed on an image of someone smiling − participants reacted less quickly to a request to read the word.

The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

“The emotion in the word doesn’t match the emotion in the facial expression, which creates a conflict,” said Dr. Joseph DeSouza, assistant professor of psychology in York’s Faculty of Health.

“Our study showed — for the first time — an increase in signal from the left inferior frontal cortex when the study participant was confronted by this conflict between the word and the image and asked to respond to directions that went against their automatic instincts.”

Previous research on the prefrontal cortex has found this region to be implicated in higher order cognitive functions including long-term planning, response suppression and response selection.

This experiment, conducted by graduate student Shima Ovaysikia under DeSouza’s supervision, allowed researchers to study inhibitory mechanisms for much more complex stimuli than have been studied in the past.

The inferior frontal cortex is located near the front left temple. People who have problems with inhibition, including stroke or schizophrenia patients, may have damage to this inferior frontal cortex zone, says DeSouza.

As a result, when they see something that is inconsistent – such as the image of a smiling face with the word “sad” across it – they would be expected to take more time to react, because the part of their brains needed to process it has been damaged or destroyed.

Source: York University

Brain Region Lit Up By Inhibiting Behavior

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Brain Region Lit Up By Inhibiting Behavior. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/12/23/brain-region-lit-up-by-inhibiting-behavior/22096.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.