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State-dependency of inhibitory control plasticity

English title State-dependency of inhibitory control plasticity
Applicant Spierer Lucas
Number 175469
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de Médecine Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Start/End 01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021
Approved amount 594'408.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Neurophysiology and Brain Research
Neurology, Psychiatry

Keywords (5)

Inhibitory control; Brain plasticity; ERP; Lesion; Brain stimulation

Lay Summary (French)

Le ‘control inhibiteur’ désigne la capacité s'interrompre un processus cognitif ou moteur en cours d'execution. Cette fonction permet notamment de contrôler des réponses impulsives ou inappropriées. Comme le control inhibiteur peut être amélioré par des entraînements, la pratique répétée de tâche impliquant le contrôle inhibiteur pourrait être utilisé en clinique pour la réhabilitation des pertes de contrôle comme il peut se manifester dans l’addiction ou le vieillissement. Cependant, les conditions neurophysiologiques modulant les effets d’entrainement et les mécanismes cérébraux sous-jacents restent peu connus.
Lay summary

Le présent projet vise à explorer comment le vieillissement, la stimulation cérébrale non-invasive et les lésions cérébrales interagissent avec les effets comportementaux et neurophysiologiques des entraînements au control inhibiteur. Ces questions seront adressées avec des essais cliniques randomisés en double aveugle dans lesquels les effet d’entraînements seront évalués avec les mesures comportementales et de neuroimagerie. 

En plus d’apporter des informations fondamentales sur les mécanismes neurophysiologiques de la plasticité cérébrale induite par des entraînements au contrôle inhibiteur, notre projet aura une applicabilité clinique immédiate pour la réhabilitation des déficits du control inhibiteur.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 12.01.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
156854 Structural and functional brain plasticity in inhibitory control: towards expertise 01.01.2015 Project funding (Div. I-III)
143348 Training-induced behavioral and brain plasticity in inhibitory control 01.01.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)


1. Summary: ‘State-dependency of inhibitory control plasticity’ 1.1 Background Inhibitory control (IC), a key aspect of executive functions, refers to the ability to suppress cognitive or motor processes and is mainly supported by a right fronto-basal brain network. IC exhibits a high degree of experience-dependent plasticity; IC training typically results in an increase in the speed of the inhibition process associated with a reduction of right ventrolateral prefrontal activity and a reinforcement of fronto-striatal anatomic connectivity. However, while the neurocognitive mechanisms of experience-dependent IC plasticity in young healthy populations begin to be elucidated, how the pre-training anatomo-functional context modulates the expression of IC plasticity remains unknown. We plan to examine the effects of aging, non-invasive brain stimulation and brain lesions on training-induced plasticity in inhibitory control. 1.2 Working hypotheses Project A. Age-related inhibitory control deficits are associated with an increase in right inferior frontal activity and an additional recruitment of contralateral homotopic areas, a pattern interpreted as a compensatory functional response to age-related neural deteriorations. Interestingly, this functional reorganization pattern is qualitatively similar to the plastic modifications induced by training in young adults, but in the opposite direction. >IC training in elderly should ‘reverse’ the effects of aging on inhibitory control functional architecture. Project B. The reduction of ventrolateral prefrontal neural activity associated with IC training has been advanced as being regulated by the central nervous system inhibitory/excitatory balance, a mechanism that can be locally and bidirectionally modulated by transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). >Cathodal inhibitory tDCS should potentiate the training-induced (supposedly GABA-mediated) sharpening of inhibition-related ventrolateral prefrontal activity and in turn enhance the effects of inhibitory control training. Project C. The pathophysiological brain response to lesions interacts with the cognitive and functional symptomatology, as well as with training-induced plasticity, in a time-dependent manner.>Lesions close to (but sparing) the fronto-basal IC network, or in contralateral homotopic areas, should impair IC-related functional activity and the effects of IC training during the acute and subacute phases, whereas lesions outside the IC network should influence these dependent variables in the acute phase only. 1.3 Experimental designs and methods Projects A and B are based on confirmatory double-blind randomized actively-controlled intervention trials combined with electrical neuroimaging. The effects of multi-sessions training regimens and their transfer to untrained tasks will be assessed with Intervention Group x Pre/Post Training Session interaction terms. The control and experimental conditions are equated for task demands and participants’ expectations, ensuring a stringent level of control for the effects of the tested interventions. Project C is based on a longitudinal investigation of the interaction between lesions spatial features, post-lesion delays and training-induced functional IC plasticity with voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping analyses. 1.4 Expected value of the proposed project The planned projects will answer key questions on the neurocognitive mechanisms of inhibitory control and of its plasticity based on unique combinations of lesion, electrical neuroimaging and brain stimulation approaches. The studies are designed to have an immediate clinical applicability, including the development of targeted diagnosis and rehabilitation strategies for elderly and clinical populations with inhibitory control deficits.