Everyday acts of self-control directed at, for example, cigarettes, food, and gambling, depend, in part, on the ability to stop action. While much is known about action stopping in humans, real world self-control, as in the above examples, has a strong valuational or motivational component. Yet there is scant research on how motor stopping interacts with value/motivation. Our core hypothesis, based on preliminary data, is that motor stopping can reduce value and motivation. We will test three possible mechanisms based on our work with three kinds of stopping systems.
Our first aim i s to test how rapid stopping concurrently reduces stimulus value. We hypothesize that rapid stopping recruits a global stopping system that inhibits all currently active representations, including value. Testing this requires measuring global inhibition (with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, TMS), imaging the stopping system and value representations (with fMRI and Electrocorticography) and, above all, showing that brain regions critical for stopping are causally important for reducing value (using a novel form of Direct Electrical Stimulation, in humans).
Our second aim i s to examine how motivational stimuli, which generate action tendencies, are suppressed. Our hypothesis is that this is done by the selective stopping system that is set up according to a subject's goals in working memory and which can be triggered by the motivational stimulus itself. We will test this by measuring the temporal dynamics of motor activation and suppression with TMS, and using fMRI to examine the putative underlying fronto-striatal system.
Our third aim i s to leverage automatic stopping to reduce stimulus value and motivation. We hypothesize that repeated stopping (via training) generates stimulus stop-tag, so that when that stimulus occurs in the future it reactivates the stopping system (automatically), which then reduces stimulus value and motivation.

Public Health Relevance

These experiments will provide mechanistic insight into how stopping reduces stimulus value and motivation. This is highly relevant for understanding and treating disorders of human self-control characterized by stimulus over-valuation or excessive motivation such as substance use disorders, over-eating and pathological gambling. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Substance dependence, over-eating, gambling and many other disorders are partly related to over- valuation of stimuli or excessive motivational drive. Our hypothesis is that stimulus value and motivational drive can be reduced through the brain's motor stopping system. We will test this hypothesis using neuroscience methods in humans that can examine the activity of brain circuits for stopping and value/motivation.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Research Project (R01)
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Cognition and Perception Study Section (CP)
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Bjork, James M
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University of California San Diego
Schools of Arts and Sciences
La Jolla
United States
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Wessel, Jan R; Aron, Adam R (2014) Inhibitory motor control based on complex stopping goals relies on the same brain network as simple stopping. Neuroimage 103:225-34
Chiu, Yu-Chin; Cools, Roshan; Aron, Adam R (2014) Opposing effects of appetitive and aversive cues on go/no-go behavior and motor excitability. J Cogn Neurosci 26:1851-60
Aron, Adam R; Robbins, Trevor W; Poldrack, Russell A (2014) Inhibition and the right inferior frontal cortex: one decade on. Trends Cogn Sci 18:177-85
Freeman, Scott M; Razhas, Ieva; Aron, Adam R (2014) Top-down response suppression mitigates action tendencies triggered by a motivating stimulus. Curr Biol 24:212-6
Chiu, Yu-Chin; Aron, Adam R (2014) Unconsciously triggered response inhibition requires an executive setting. J Exp Psychol Gen 143:56-61
Pieters, Thomas A; Conner, Christopher R; Tandon, Nitin (2013) Recursive grid partitioning on a cortical surface model: an optimized technique for the localization of implanted subdural electrodes. J Neurosurg 118:1086-97
Itthipuripat, Sirawaj; Wessel, Jan R; Aron, Adam R (2013) Frontal theta is a signature of successful working memory manipulation. Exp Brain Res 224:255-62
Majid, D S Adnan; Cai, Weidong; Corey-Bloom, Jody et al. (2013) Proactive selective response suppression is implemented via the basal ganglia. J Neurosci 33:13259-69
Wessel, Jan R; Reynoso, H Sequoyah; Aron, Adam R (2013) Saccade suppression exerts global effects on the motor system. J Neurophysiol 110:883-90
Greenhouse, Ian; Oldenkamp, Caitlin L; Aron, Adam R (2012) Stopping a response has global or nonglobal effects on the motor system depending on preparation. J Neurophysiol 107:384-92

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