Cognitive control reflects context monitoring, not motoric stopping, in response inhibition

Christopher H. Chatham, Eric D. Claus, Albert Kim, Tim Curran, Marie T. Banich, Yuko Munakata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

124 Scopus citations


The inhibition of unwanted behaviors is considered an effortful and controlled ability. However, inhibition also requires the detection of contexts indicating that old behaviors may be inappropriate - in other words, inhibition requires the ability to monitor context in the service of goals, which we refer to as context-monitoring. Using behavioral, neuroimaging, electrophysiological and computational approaches, we tested whether motoric stopping per se is the cognitively-controlled process supporting response inhibition, or whether context-monitoring may fill this role. Our results demonstrate that inhibition does not require control mechanisms beyond those involved in context-monitoring, and that such control mechanisms are the same regardless of stopping demands. These results challenge dominant accounts of inhibitory control, which posit that motoric stopping is the cognitively-controlled process of response inhibition, and clarify emerging debates on the frontal substrates of response inhibition by replacing the centrality of controlled mechanisms for motoric stopping with context-monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere31546
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 27 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Cognitive control reflects context monitoring, not motoric stopping, in response inhibition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this