Neural and behavioral mechanisms of proactive and reactive inhibition Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Avoidance Learning
  • Inhibition (Psychology)
  • Receptors, Nicotinic


  • Response inhibition is an important component of adaptive behavior. Substantial prior research has focused on reactive inhibition, which refers to the cessation of a motor response that is already in progress. More recently, a growing number of studies have begun to examine mechanisms underlying proactive inhibition, whereby preparatory processes result in a response being withheld before it is initiated. It has become apparent that proactive inhibition is an essential component of the overall ability to regulate behavior and has implications for the success of reactive inhibition. Moreover, successful inhibition relies on learning the meaning of specific environmental cues that signal when a behavioral response should be withheld. Proactive inhibitory control is mediated by stopping goals, which reflect the desired outcome of inhibition and include information about how and when inhibition should be implemented. However, little is known about the circuits and cellular processes that encode and represent features in the environment that indicate the necessity for proactive inhibition or how these representations are implemented in response inhibition. In this article, we will review the brain circuits and systems involved in implementing inhibitory control through both reactive and proactive mechanisms. We also comment on possible cellular mechanisms that may contribute to inhibitory control processes, noting that substantial further research is necessary in this regard. Furthermore, we will outline a number of ways in which the temporal dynamics underlying the generation of the proactive inhibitory signal may be particularly important for parsing out the neurobiological correlates that contribute to the learning processes underlying various aspects of inhibitory control.

publication date

  • October 2016



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC5026209

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1101/lm.040501.115

PubMed ID

  • 27634142

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 504

end page

  • 14


  • 23


  • 10