Activity in orbitofrontal neuronal ensembles reflects inhibitory control

Pragathi Priyadharsini Balasubramani, Meghan C. Pesce, Benjamin Y. Hayden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Stopping, or inhibition, is a form of self-control that is a core element of flexible and adaptive behavior. Its neural origins remain unclear. Some views hold that inhibition decisions reflect the aggregation of widespread and diverse pieces of information, including information arising in ostensible core reward regions (i.e., outside the canonical executive system). We recorded activity of single neurons in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) of macaques, a region associated with economic decisions, and whose role in inhibition is debated. Subjects performed a classic inhibition task known as the stop signal task. Ensemble decoding analyses reveal a clear firing rate pattern that distinguishes successful from failed inhibition and that begins after the stop signal and before the stop signal reaction time (SSRT). We also found a different and orthogonal ensemble pattern that distinguishes successful from failed stopping before the beginning of the trial. These signals were distinct from, and orthogonal to, value encoding, which was also observed in these neurons. The timing of the early and late signals was, respectively, consistent with the idea that neuronal activity in OFC encodes inhibition both proactively and reactively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2033-2051
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NIH (DA038615) to BYH. We thank the Hayden Lab members, Prof. Srinivasa Chakravarthy and Prof. Dhakshin Ramanathan, for helpful discussion.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • inhibition
  • orbitofrontal neuronal ensembles
  • proactive control
  • reactive control
  • stop signal task


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