Inhibition of inappropriate responses is an essential executive function needed for adaptation to changing environments. In stop-signal tasks, which are often used to investigate response inhibition, subjectsmake"go" responses while they prepare to stop at a suddenly given "stop" signal. However, the preparatory processes ongoing before response inhibition have rarely been investigated, and it remains unclear how the preparation contributes to response inhibition. In the present study, a stop-signal task was designed so that the extent of the preparation could be estimated using behavioral and neuroimaging measures. Specifically, in addition to the conventional go trials where preparation to stop was required ("uncertain-go" trials), another type of go trial was introduced where a stop-signal was never given and such preparation was unnecessary ("certain-go" trials). An index reflecting the "preparation cost" was then calculated by subtracting the reaction times in the certain-go trials from those in the uncertain-go trials. It was revealed that the stop signal reaction time, a common index used to evaluate the efficiency of response inhibition, decreased as the preparation cost increased, indicating greater preparation supports more efficient inhibition. In addition, imaging data showed that response inhibition recruited frontoparietal regions (the contrast "stop vs uncertain-go") and that preparation recruited most of the inhibition-related frontoparietal regions (the contrast "uncertain-go vs certain-go"). It was also revealed that the inhibition-related activity declined as the preparation cost increased. These behavioral and imaging results suggest preparation makes a complementary contribution to response inhibition during performance of a stop-signal task.
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